Credit repair ‘test case’ has broker over the moon

Happy New Year 2014Happy New Year from MyCRA Lawyers. How can we make 2014 better for you? We can recommend our credit dispute and credit file consultancy services!

A shameless plug perhaps – but here’s why we’re doing it…

By Graham Doessel, Non-Legal Director of MyCRA Lawyers.

We want to tell you about one of our broker clients, who has just jumped in with us just before Christmas, and been over the moon with the results.

Up until now, this broker had been turning clients away who had bad credit. But he’d recently heard about our success from someone he trusted, and decided it was time to give us a go.

Why didn’t he start earlier?

Understandably, when you find out you or your clients have bad credit it can be hard to know what to do.

Many people in the past have been hesitant to consider having their credit file repaired.

And for brokers, there is a fair bit of reputation at stake sending someone off to do something you don’t know much about, and the last thing you want to do is threaten that.

Add to this the criticism that is floating around about credit repair, and some clients and their brokers can be reluctant to test the waters.

Since MyCRA Lawyers’ inception as an Incorporated Legal Practice focusing on credit disputes, fears have been alleviated for many who were watching credit repair with interest but trepidation, including our new broker client.

He sent us his first client, which he said after the fact was really just a test to see how we’d go.

His client had great success – the default on his credit file was removed in less than 2 weeks. His client will now be able to apply for the home loan at interest rates he deserves.

On top of that, and probably more importantly, the broker was really happy with how he and his client were treated by our staff – including the advice that was given, and the follow up that was provided during the course of the credit repair.

His great experience meant he will be referring any other clients he comes across who have bad credit to us. He no longer has to turn them away, and he has found a firm whom he trusts, and whom he trusts with his most important asset, his clients.

If you are also watching with interest, curious to learn about credit repair but afraid to test the waters…jump in and find out whether you or your clients might be suitable for credit repair with our law firm – focused on credit file consultancy and credit disputes.

The assessment stage is quite rigorous, so you can be sure if we do decide to take the case on, we have a strong reason to go in and fight for that credit listing’s permanent removal from your credit file.

Call MyCRA Lawyers if you have more questions about what we do. Ph 1300 667 218 and we can talk you through what’s involved as well as give more specific help for your case. MyCRA Lawyers are qualified to perform legal services.

Image: Idea go/ www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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5 credit accidents you want to avoid this Christmas.

Media Release

credit accidents5 credit accidents you want to avoid this Christmas.

17 December 2013

Australians must put credit issues on their radar to ensure a bad credit rating is not the surprise they get this Christmas season, warns a consumer advocate for accurate credit reporting.

Credit repair pioneer Graham Doessel, who is now Non-Legal Director of MyCRA Lawyers – a firm focusing on credit disputes, says too many Australians are kept in the dark about their credit file, but anyone who intends to borrow money in the next five years should make it their business to prevent simple accidents from hurting their credit rating.

“I fear many people are unknowingly making mistakes with credit right now, which will see them locked out next year,” Mr Doessel says.

Back in September, Credit reporting agency Veda Advantage published results of a survey showing that 80 per cent of Australians have never checked their credit history and 53 per cent were not aware that they could ask for a copy of their credit file.(1)

Mr Doessel says these statistics are severely worrying and show too many consumers are unaware of how important their credit file can be for lenders making financial decisions.

“There are no class lines, whether rich or poor if your credit file is ‘impaired’ by negative notations, your ability to obtain credit will be affected or the interest rate you are offered will be higher,” he says.

“I would like to say it is always cut and dried – don’t pay, get bad credit but in reality it’s not that simple.”

There are number of ways you can make mistakes and end up paying dearly for it. Over the Christmas period the risks can be higher.

Mr Doessel covers the 5 major credit accidents at Christmas time:

 1. Accidental late payment.

Right now, if you make a payment late on licenced credit (being loans, credit cards and other finance) – the information is being recorded. You may not intend to actually default on your loan – but Christmas can be a busy time where payments can get overlooked by a few days. Don’t let this happen to you. After March next year, late payment information will be available to lenders on your credit report and will stay there for 2 years. So don’t put off paying your credit card after Christmas pay on time every time to make sure your credit rating isn’t impacted.

2. Accidental default.

If you happen to unknowingly let any bill (including your phone bill or Energy account) slip into default – (more than 60 days overdue) a default listing will be recorded against your name. You may have the funds to pay, you may have simply overlooked the account – but your credit file will carry that default listing for 5 years – and most times you will be refused mainstream credit because of it. So if you plan to go away for Christmas, make a plan to ensure all of your bills are organised prior to leaving.

3. Being careless with your personal information.

Scammers are out in full force at Christmas, but often people are too busy to take care with their personal information. Credit cards are used more frequently and at a variety of locations; we’re being encouraged to sign up for free giveaways; we’re giving out more details online – but you must consider the risks to your credit rating. If fraudsters are able to access your personal details they have the key to your good credit rating. They can run up credit all over town. Often it’s not until victims apply for credit in their own right and are refused because of defaults that they realise their credit file has been misused.

4. Not forwarding new information to old Creditors during moving and transfers.

Christmas and New Year is a very common time for transfers and other work changes to occur that could see people moving interstate. A change of address is a very common reason bills go unnoticed – along with warning notices and the result is a bad credit rating that may not be detected until you actually apply for a home loan. Before you go, tie up all loose ends at your current address, ensuring all changes of address and accounts are settled and confirmed in writing to avoid being blacklisted for credit.

5. Overlooking errors and omissions from Creditors.

Even creditors are affected by the silly season -with staff busy and preoccupied. The volume of transactions may increase while staff decrease, putting stress on the Creditors’ systems. For this reason it is crucial for you to keep watch on your own finances. Check your bank statements and bills at this time. Keep abreast of which bills are due and when. If you don’t receive a bill, chase it up. Busy people make mistakes – don’t let them make it with your credit rating.

You can check what is currently reported about you at www.freecreditrating.com.au.

Mr Doessel says education is the key to ensuring less people are making mistakes with credit. More information on credit reporting in Australia can be found at the Office of the Information Commissioner’s website www.oaic.gov.au. MyCRA also provides up to date information on trends and issues in credit reporting impacting consumers www.mycra.com.au/blog.

/ENDS.

Please contact:

Graham Doessel – Non-Legal Director MyCRA Lawyers Ph 3124 7133

Lisa Brewster – Media Relations media@mycra.com.au

www.mycra.com.au www.mycra.com.au/blog

MyCRA Lawyers 246 Stafford Rd, STAFFORD Qld Ph 07 3124 7133

MyCRA Lawyers is an Incorporated Legal Practice, focused on credit file consultancy and credit disputes. We mean business when it comes to helping those disadvantaged by credit rating mistakes.

(1) http://www.veda.com.au/sites/default/files/images/ycai_launch_infographic_final_190913.pdf

Image: Naypong/www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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Widespread education campaign needed to save Australian credit ratings.

Media Release

repayment historyWidespread education campaign needed to save Australian credit ratings.

4 December 2013

A consumer advocate has welcomed Australian Retail Credit Association (ARCA) plans to educate consumers about new credit laws, but says full and immediate help from other key players within both the finance industry and government is essential to reach the millions of Australians whose credit ratings are currently at risk.

Credit repair pioneer Graham Doessel, who is now Non-Legal Director of MyCRA Lawyers – a firm focusing on credit reporting law – says the powers that be have failed to ensure consumers were educated about new credit laws which are impacting them now.

“From December 2012, information about consumer repayment history to licenced creditors – which includes credit card and loan repayments have been recorded – and the details of any repayments made past the due date will show on credit files as of March 2014,” Mr Doessel says.

He goes on to say, “There has not been enough education to date about this important change, and possibly millions of Australians who have not been diligent with making payments by the due date could be affected.”

The extent of consumer ignorance on new credit laws has been acknowledged by the Australian Retail Credit Association (ARCA), who announced last week they were developing a website aimed at helping consumers better understand credit reporting.

ARCA’s own research revealed 59 per cent of people had not heard of the term “credit reporting.” Credit reporting agency Veda Advantage also recently published results of a survey showing that 80 per cent of people have never checked their credit history and 53 per cent were not aware that they could ask for a copy of their credit file. (1)

ARCA’s chief executive, Damian Paull told Banking Day that ARCA’s new website, which he hopes to launch in the New Year, will explain the changes to the credit reporting system; explain how people can get access to their credit files; go through the issues that contribute to a good or bad credit report; and detail the financial hardship obligations of credit providers. (2)

Mr Paull said ARCA members would be encouraged to provide links on their websites to the new site.

Mr Doessel says ARCA’S approach – whilst positive, needs more than ‘encouragement’ – but massive national assistance to appropriately address the magnitude of the problems potentially facing Australian consumers.

“With over 16.5 million consumer credit files held by Veda Advantage alone, we’re talking millions of Australians who need to be reached to prevent lax repayment habits impacting their future.”

“The fact of the matter is – many Australians outside finance circles don’t know ARCA, let alone what comprehensive credit reporting is,” he says.

He recommends both the financial sectors and the appropriate government bodies take up the education campaign.

“I would like to see plans to incorporate a brief warning statement, plus direction for where consumers can go for further information on many standard Government letters such as Centrelink, Department of Transport and Australian Tax Office correspondence, in addition to warnings on all licenced credit statements,” Mr Doessel says.

About MyCRA Lawyers
: MyCRA Lawyers is an Incorporated Legal Practice focused on credit file consultancy and credit disputes. MyCRA Lawyers means business when it comes to helping those disadvantaged by credit rating mistakes.

/ENDS.

Please contact:

Graham Doessel – Non-Legal Director MyCRA Lawyers Ph 3124 7133

Lisa Brewster – Media Relations 
media@mycra.com.au

www.mycra.com.au  www.mycra.com.au/blog

MyCRA Lawyers 
246 Stafford Rd, STAFFORD Qld Ph 07 3124 7133


(1) http://www.veda.com.au/sites/default/files/images/ycai_launch_infographic_final_190913.pdf

(2) http://www.bankingday.com/nl06_news_selected.php?act=2&selkey=15884


Image: David Castillo/ www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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How will the changes to the Privacy Act coming in 2014 affect borrowers?

Privacy Laws March 2014Recently I was asked to participate on a panel of finance and credit experts, answering consumer questions on aspects of credit impacting credit card users. The question, ‘How will the changes to the Privacy Act coming in 2014 affect borrowers?’ is a really important question – but one which many Australians don’t think to ask. Thankfully someone did. Read what our panel of experts has to say about how the changes can impact you and your credit rating.

By Graham Doessel, Founder and CEO of MyCRA Lawyers.

This interesting article has been extracted from creditcardoffer.com.au website – a subsidiary of Credit World.

 Ask An Expert: How will the changes to the Privacy Act coming in 2014 affect borrowers?

Written by Kalianna and posted on November 28, 2013

Expert Opinion: In our inaugural ask-an-expert question, we asked about a serious change to credit reports that we know will affect a wide range of credit card applicants;

How will the planned changes to the Privacy Act commencing March 2014 affect someone applying for credit? Will people be labelled as bad credit who were not before? 

There are some changes coming in March 2014 that will impact everyone in Australia with a credit file – especially those looking to apply for a new credit card or loan in the next few years – so most adults aged 18-55. For a start, lenders will be able to see much more information than they can now when they request your credit file after you apply for a new card or loan.

Australia is moving towards a ‘positive’ credit reporting environment, where a good history with repayments and signs that you are reducing your overall debt will be rewarded and viewed positively by lenders. At the moment, lenders can see ‘negative’ information on a credit file. This includes:

  • Accounts that have been applied for (but not, for example, credit limits on credit card applications all of the time)
  • Defaults – where a payment is more than 60 days late
  • Default judgments or bankruptcy where a person has been the pursued through the courts in a debt collection action

The system will be similar to what exists in the United States, and the third credit reporting agency to enter Australia, Experian, may also have an impact. In general Australia’s credit reporting agencies have stated that they believe it could take around 12 months before the same level of data is reported on Australian borrowers as what the US FICO system provides for borrowers there.

Members of our expert panel agreed that those who want to apply for new credit in 2014 will be most affected by the changes, rather than those who already own their own home etc, though applications for refinancing or adding to your existing debt will not be immune to credit checks.

If you are wondering whether you might be considered ‘bad credit’ from next year, then pay close attention to the advice given below and start doing your research into ways to improve your credit file and keep your score high enough to get approved for the amount you want when it comes time to borrow. Our experts have highlighted areas to watch, and what lenders will be interested in so you know where to concentrate your efforts.

 

Non-Legal Director,  MyCRA Lawyers

Someone applying for credit after March next year will have more information about them shown to lenders who request a copy of their credit report.

There will be five new data sets available to lenders,

  1. repayment history information;
  2. the date on which a credit account was opened;
  3. the date on which a credit account was closed;
  4. the type of credit account opened;
  5. and the current limit of each open credit account.

Quite possibly there will be more people considered to have ‘bad credit’ after March 2014, once new laws are implemented. The most significant credit rating damage could come from repayment history information.

Australian consumers are currently under the microscope with their repayments. Since December 2012, individuals who are more than 5 days late in repaying licenced credit (eg credit cards and loans) have a late payment notation marked against their name. This information will be available to lenders on the individual’s credit report from March 2014. This is in addition to the current default information which is shown after repayments fall more than 60 days in arrears.

While many have argued that only a pattern of late payment notations would hinder access to credit, I have maintained that even one or two late payment notations could at least affect the interest rate an individual is offered.

This change could trip up many Australians and mean people are unnecessarily banned from credit due to simple billing mistakes, lost paperwork and other payment mishaps.

A history of applying for the ‘wrong’ type of credit could also be detrimental and possibly pull down any credit score calculated on the individual.

 

Chief Risk Officer, ME Bank

With the introduction of the privacy act more information will be recorded about a person’s credit history. This includes positive credit behaviours, which were never previously recorded and some negative behaviours that weren’t previously recorded such as late credit card repayments (previously only credit card defaults were recorded). Overall this new, more complete, approach gives credit providers a better picture of a person’s credit history and has significant benefits for people applying for credit. Their credit history will be more accurate and provide a truer and fairer reflection of their ability to manage the credit for which they’ve applied.

 

Founder, Leapfrog Financial

Without doubt there are changes around the corner that will significantly impact all those applying for credit after March 2014.  The changes to the Privacy Act will enable prospective lenders to know more about you than you probably even do.  From details about account repayment history, types of accounts and detailed credit information about the account status.

This is far more detail than what they currently have access to and will ensure nothing unwanted slips through.  A big difference is the repayment history of up to 24 months being provided is a significant increase to the typical 3-6 months most lenders currently require.  So being well behaved with your credit will be even more important than ever otherwise you will find yourself needing to explain any inconsistencies which could lead to a loan application being declined.

 

CEO, State Custodians

The changes to Australia’s credit reporting system will have a greater impact on those applying for credit. Not only will credit providers be able to see any repayment defaults, bankruptcies or past credit applications, but they will also have access to the past 24 months of your credit repayment history going back as far as December 2012.

This can be either a good or bad thing, depending on your financial situation. If you are diligent with your repayments and always pay bills on time, it could help improve your chances of success when applying for credit. However, if you have been late or missed repayments in the past 24 months, lenders will be able to see this and may factor this into their decision whether to approve or decline your credit application. Therefore, it is more important than ever to make an effort to keep your repayment history clean.

 

Director, Consumer Risk Solutions at Dun and Bradstreet

The changes to Australia’s credit reporting system will improve the detail and accuracy of the information used to assess applications.

For those applicants with a history of sound financial management, the additional information will provide a more detailed view of their creditworthiness. The addition of repayment history data will also allow individual’s with a previous credit slip-up to demonstrate they have rectified their credit position by making regular and on-time repayments.

Equally, with provisions to record payments made five-or-more days late, changes to Australia’s credit reporting system mean that those people who regularly make late repayments will become more visible to credit provider.

If you would like to know more about upcoming Privacy Law changes, visit our blog www.mycra.com.au/blog.

Image: Stuart Miles/ www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Help with credit card applications

applying for credit cardRecently I was asked to participate on a panel of finance and credit experts, answering consumer questions on aspects of credit impacting credit card users. A common question “How long should I wait before applying for a new credit card?” was asked of our expert panel. If you wondered about this yourself, you should read this article, and have a look at what experts on the panel have to say which could help you and your credit rating.

By Graham Doessel, Founder and CEO of MyCRA Lawyers.

The article seen here below in full, is published on credit card comparison website www.creditcardoffers.com – a subsidiary of Credit World.

Ask An Expert: How long should I wait before applying for a new credit card?

Written by Kalianna and posted on December 2, 2013

 

One of the most common questions we get at Credit Card Offers is whether or not it is too soon to apply for a new credit card or other credit product after taking up an offer. It’s a confusing situation for us as borrowers, with some lenders saying three months is long enough to wait, and others advising that two fresh applications within one year is the maximum we should be lodging if we want our credit files to stay in tact, including our expert Dominique Bergel-Grant, whose full answer to the question is below. Dun & Bradstreet’s Steve Brown tends to agree that too many applications will simply raise a red flag for lenders, and Dun & Bradstreet is one of the major credit reporting agencies operating here in Australia, which supplies information on consumers and businesses. The definition of ‘too many’ credit applications each year is open for some debate too, as according to State Custodians CEO Heidi Armstrong, up to four or five applications per year can be acceptable, depending on other factors.

As another of our experts, Graham Doessel points out, some lenders may even decline your application automatically if you have made too many applications – and that won’t matter whether or not you actually took up offers of credit after those applications. If you find yourself in that situation, you may have an option to speak to lenders and/or credit reporting experts to rectify the situation.  ME Bank’s Nick Vamvakas does mention that when lenders have access to more information, they may give less weight to factors such as the number of previous applications if they can see other good reason to believe you are creditworthy. It’s bound to be harder where you have been rejected by a computer though.

Doing balance transfers with credit card debt can also provide mixed signals – because lenders will see that you have simply moved debt onto another credit card, but at the same time they should also be able to tell that you are paying off that debt each month more easily with the extra information that will be available. That means that if  you’re using them correctly, balance transfers can be a useful tool for your debt and your credit file, and not damage your ability to borrow.

The whole situation will be clarified further in 2014, when lenders gain access to a 24-month repayment history on borrowers’ credit files. We will start to see, over the course of the next year or two, what approach lenders take based on the new credit scoring system and the new information available. Until that time though, we can give you these words from those in the industry to take into account before applying for your next credit card or loan. Read each expert’s response and keep the information in mind when considering a new credit card or loan.

 In our second Ask An Expert panel question we have responses from four different experts. Each lays out the key considerations lenders take into account, and different variables that you should be aware of before applying for a new credit card or credit product;

“How long should customers wait for applying for each new credit card? For example when transferring an existing balance from one card over to another to take advantage of 0% interest offers. What effect does this have on the customer’s credit score?”

 

Non-Legal Director,  MyCRA Lawyers

Customers should definitely take precautions when applying for credit. The volume of credit people apply for and the type of credit can hinder any future credit application.

In terms of how long customers should wait before applying for each new card – it really depends on each lender. However, we are aware that some Credit Providers will have an automatic decline with individuals who have applied for credit 3 times in the last 6 months, or show 6 credit applications in a 12 month period.

In terms of credit applications impacting the credit score the general rule is:

  • Customers should only make a credit application they have full intention of pursuing.
  • Be wary of applying for ‘high interest’ or ‘bad credit’ loans –a credit ‘scoring’ method may shave points off your score through this type of credit application.
  • Seek cautious credit limits within your budget. Your credit score may be affected by credit limits which are considered too high.

 

Chief Risk Officer, ME Bank

In the old credit reporting regime, which will be replaced in 2014, the number of credit applications was one of the few indicators available to credit providers to judge an applicant’s suitability to receive credit. It was a negative indicator and a larger number of credit applications in a short period could create a negative impression. While the number of credit applications may still be used as a negative indicator in the future, it will carry less weight as other indicators will now be available to credit providers. It is therefore likely to have a smaller negative impact on borrowers’ credit scores.

 

Director, Consumer Risk Solutions at Dun and Bradstreet

Each credit provider will have their own credit and risk scoring approach, however applying for multiple credit cards, loans or other finance in a relatively short period of time will show up on your credit report and be a potential red flag for lenders.

Numerous applications in quick succession can indicate a high level of risk and an irresponsible appetite for credit, especially if you have unpaid debts to begin with.

 

CEO, State Custodians

Each time a person applies for credit, it impacts their credit score. Around 4-5 credit applications per year is generally within the range of acceptable behaviour from the perspective of a main-stream lender. Therefore, if a customer is only applying for one or two credit cards per year (based around a 6 or 12 month balance transfer offer) then this is not necessarily seen in a poor light, provided the total number of credit enquiries during the year remain within the acceptable limits. Extreme care would have to be taken to only apply with one credit card provider and not put in multiple applications at the one time.

A lender can see what different credit applications a customer has made and too many enquiries will create a ‘busy’ credit report and result in a poor credit score. If customers are continually rolling the same amount of credit card debt over to a new card, it means they are not actually paying the debt off and lenders will start to look upon this unfavourably. Continuously transferring credit cards is a short term solution and doesn’t fix the real problem of being in debt. If customers wish to take advantage of interest free offers, they should try to only consolidate once and then make an effort to pay off the debt as soon as possible.

 

Founder, Leapfrog Financial

As a rule you should not apply for more than two new credit facilities every 12 months.  When lenders see more than this they start to become concerned about your motives, and although it could be due to chasing a low rate it will still be a mark against you.

Remember some lenders systems have automatic credit scoring, so if you fail due to multiple credit application then your application will simply be declined.  The biggest tip is to get a copy of your credit report and know exactly what the lenders will be finding out about you.  I recommend all my clients apply for a copy of their credit report once a year both to check for any errors, but also to ensure there has been no fraud.

 

We hope the help offered here by these experts has helped you to know more about not only credit applications, but credit reporting in general. If you would like to know about Australia’s new Privacy Laws and how they might impact you, read our next post.

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Your home on the line: be vigilant with bills this Christmas.

Media Release

repayments ChristmasYour home on the line: be vigilant with bills this Christmas.

28 November 2013

Australian consumers need to be extremely careful with their repayments over the Christmas period as paying even ONE DAY late on some accounts could mean their credit rating is weakened, warns a consumer advocate for accurate credit reporting.

Graham Doessel, Non-Legal Director of MyCRA Lawyers, a national firm which helps clients dispute their credit rating, says regardless of the size of the Christmas credit card bill – delaying payment on licensed credit could prove to be a long term credit disaster and reduce the chances of securing a home loan.

“The majority of Australian consumers seem unaware that as of December last year if you default on making a licenced credit payment by the due date, it is noted, and from March 2014, this information will show as part of your credit history for two years,” he warns.

This new data set of repayment history information (RHI) is part of amendments to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and is intended to capture those individuals who are at risk with credit.

Mr Doessel says it is unclear the weight lenders will give to RHI when assessing credit worthiness.

“We don’t know precisely how many notations will be too many and mean credit refusal.  We also don’t know if having as little one late payment notation will move the individual to a higher ‘risk’ category with lenders, which will mean they are charged more in interest,” he says.

March 2014 will see a new Credit Reporting Code of Conduct come into force, which will include a probable grace period of 5 days for late payments, but until the time frame is set – there is no room for mistakes.

5 Tips For Saving Credit File Over Christmas

1. Watch out for identity theft.
Be aware fraudsters are out in full force at Christmas. Don’t be lax with personal information, and take care online to minimise the risk to your credit rating from misuse by identity thieves.

2. Stay organised.
With the busy lead up to Christmas, repayment of your accounts should still remain a priority. Develop a system so you don’t forget – or you will pay the price later. Try to pay at least a couple of days before the due date to allow for any systemic delays with banks or BPay.

3. Pre-pay your bills before you go away.
Don’t get caught out with a bill sitting at home unpaid while you’re away – pre-empt any bills which may come up during that time period.

4. Spend within your budget.
Whilst using credit at Christmas fosters the ‘pay later’ mentality – remember that you will pay at some point for what you spend now -so consider what you can really afford.

5. Police your Credit Provider.
Credit Providers can also be affected by Christmas. The volume of transactions may increase while staff decrease, putting pressure on systems.Check statements – make sure they are correct, and also keep abreast of which bills are due and when. If you notice you haven’t received a bill and you believe it’s due, you should chase it up.

Christmas is also a good time for people to check their credit rating, to ensure the accuracy of their information.  They can request a copy of their credit file at no charge, from one or more of the credit reporting agencies and a credit report will be sent within 10 working days. Contact MyCRA Lawyers on 1300 667 218.

About MyCRA Lawyers: MyCRA Lawyers is an Incorporated Legal Practice focused on credit file consultancy and credit disputes. MyCRA Lawyers means business when it comes to helping those disadvantaged by credit rating mistakes.

/ENDS.

Please contact:

Graham Doessel – Non-Legal Director MyCRA Lawyers Ph 3124 7133

Lisa Brewster – Media Relations  media@mycra.com.au

www.mycra.com.au  www.mycra.com.au/blog

MyCRA Lawyers 246 Stafford Rd, STAFFORD Qld Ph 07 3124 7133

Links:

http://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/privacy-resources/privacy-fact-sheets/credit-and-finance/privacy-fact-sheet-16-credit-reporting-repayment-history-information

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/num_act/pappa2012466/sch2.html

Image: “repayments Christmas” – Naypong/www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Online shoppers preyed on by fraudsters this Christmas

Media Release

christmas shopping onlineOnline shoppers preyed on by fraudsters this Christmas.

26 November 2013

More Australians will shop on the internet this Christmas, but a consumer advocate warns the increase in online trading could bring out more fraudsters looking to prey on time-poor and budget conscious consumers with schemes to not only take money, but personal information for purposes of identity theft.

Graham Doessel, Non-Legal Director of MyCRA Lawyers, a firm which helps clients dispute their credit rating, says any unfamiliar retailer should be treated with caution, particularly those seeking personal information.

“Consumers should be weary of those retailers seeking more personal information than would normally be necessary for a standard transaction, as we know that personal information can be stored and used to commit identity theft against unsuspecting consumers,” Mr Doessel says.

“If fraudsters are able to get enough personal information they can request replacement copies of identification in your name and gain hold of your credit rating, so it may be your personal details that the crooks are really after.”

He warns that unlike cases of bank fraud, where consumers may be reimbursed for stolen funds, an identity fraud case can be much more complicated and harder to recover from.

“An identity theft victim may not always know the exact circumstances leading to debts in their name. In some cases they don’t even know they’ve been a victim until they apply for credit. There can be defaults and Judgments against their name which see them locked them out of credit for 5 years,” he says.

According to the ACCC’s annual report on scam activity, online shopping scams have increased by 65 per cent since 2011. The ACCC cites the increase in online activity as the reason for the rise in scams.

The Government’s Stay Smart Online website provides some online transaction safety advice:

  • Be wary if the website looks suspicious or unprofessional or makes unrealistic promises. Bargains which look too good to be true often are.
  • Only pay via a secure web page-one that has a valid digital certificate.
  • Use a secure payment method such as PayPal, BPay, or your credit card. Avoid money transfers and direct debit, as these can be open to abuse. Never send your bank or credit card details via email.
  • Always print and keep a copy of the transaction. Keep records of any emails to and from the seller.
  • Always conduct transactions within the auction website. Avoid private contact or payment directly with buyers or sellers-scammers will often use this ploy to ‘offer a better deal.

Mr Doessel says if people worry they may have been caught out by identity theft this Christmas, they should act quickly to prevent credit file repercussions.

“They should contact Police immediately, as well as their bank. They should also order a copy of their credit report – which would indicate if their credit file had been misused,” he says.

In some cases victims may need the services of a credit reporting lawyer following identity theft to help with recovering their good name.

About MyCRA Lawyers
: MyCRA Lawyers is an Incorporated Legal Practice focused on credit file consultancy and credit disputes. MyCRA Lawyers means business when it comes to helping those disadvantaged by credit rating mistakes.

/ENDS.

Please contact:

Graham Doessel – Non-Legal Director MyCRA Lawyers Ph 3124 7133

Lisa Brewster – Media Relations 
media@mycra.com.au

Ph 07 3124 7133 
www.mycra.com.au  www.mycra.com.au/blog

MyCRA Lawyers 
246 Stafford Rd, STAFFORD Qld


http://www.accc.gov.au/publications/targeting-scams-report-on-scam-activity/targeting-scams-report-of-the-accc-on-scam-activity-2012
http://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/home_users/protect_yourself2/smart_online_shopping

Image: sixninepixels/www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Change to MyCRA Terms 20131122

Effective from the 20th  December 2013, the following term

14. AGREE THAT MYCRA WILL PAUSE YOUR FILE SHOULD YOU FAIL UNDER YOUR OBLIGATIONS TO PROVIDE MYCRA WITH PAYMENT, INFORMATION OR DOCUMENTS AND ANYTHING ELSE THAT MAY BE REASONABLY REQUESTED BY MYCRA

will come into effect as

14. AGREE THAT MYCRA WILL PAUSE AND OR CLOSE YOUR FILE UNDER THE FOLLOWING SITUATIONS:

1. SHOULD YOU FAIL UNDER YOUR OBLIGATIONS TO PROVIDE MYCRA WITH PAYMENT YOUR FILE WILL BE PAUSED IMMEDIATELY. WHERE YOUR ACCOUNT IS NOT REMEDIED WITHIN 30 DAYS FROM THE FIRST PAYMENT DEFAULT YOUR FILE WILL BE CLOSED. YOU REMAIN LIABLE FOR ANY DEBTS INCURRED UNDER THIS AGREEMENT EVEN WHERE YOUR ACCOUNT HAS BEEN CLOSED.

2. SHOULD YOU FAIL TO PROVIDE, WHEN REQUESTED INFORMATION, DOCUMENTS OR ANY OTHER REASONABLY REQUESTED ITEMS WITHIN 30 DAYS OF A REQUEST YOUR FILE WILL BE PAUSED.

1. SHOULD YOU CONTINUE TO FAIL TO PROVIDE WHEN REQUESTED, INFORMATION,  DOCUMENTS OR ANY OTHER REASONABLY REQUESTED ITEMS 30 DAYS AFTER YOUR FILE HAS BEEN PAUSED YOU FILE WILL BE CLOSED. YOU REMAIN LIABLE FOR ANY DEBTS INCURRED UNDER THIS AGREEMENT EVEN WHERE YOUR ACCOUNT HAS BEEN CLOSED.

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7 reasons why an up to date Will is important

Life Back On TrackHaving an up to date and accurate Will is one of the most important things you can do in your life – for when your life ends.  Young or old, rich or poor – every family deserves a Will for their loved ones. Read below to discover 7 reasons why an up to date Will is important. Likewise, having an accurate credit file can be one of the most important factors in ensuring you are provided credit by the lender of your choice. Find out how both of these are important if you want to get your life back on track.

By Graham Doessel, Non-Legal Director of MyCRA Lawyers.

Credit rating inconsistencies and black marks can mean you’re locked out of credit for between 5 and 7 years – unable to get even a mobile phone plan let alone a house, car or business.  Anyone who’s been there will know it can be a real mess to uncover the intricacies of those credit rating mistakes, present them correctly and fight for their removal and often you don’t find out about them until you really need credit.  It can be stressful, and frustrating to say the least.

The help of professional credit reporting lawyers can be invaluable to getting your credit file back on track and allowing you the freedom to move forward with life again.

But did you know…

There is another really important area of your life which can also end up in a real mess at the worst possible time. That’s your Estate. Unlike your credit file – where you are often at the mercy of the competence (or incompetence) of your Credit Provider – your Estate is in your power and you are responsible for it.

 7 Reasons why an up to date Will is important.

1. If you pass away and don’t have a Will, your Estate is classified as Intestate. The Courts in your State will decide how your Estate is dispersed. If you have a Will, you get to make the decisions about who gets what. The last thing you would want is for there to be family conflict because you did not make your intentions clear.

2. If you don’t make a Will, it can take months for the State to appoint an Administrator to your case. Your family, particularly your Dependants, could be severely disadvantaged by this and even possibly have to go into debt for your funeral and other expenses until the Estate is dispersed.

3. If you don’t have a Will, the Court will appoint a Guardian for your children. This Guardian may not be the person you wish to look after your children.

4. If you don’t have a Will, the State may not divide your Estate in a way you would consider fair. Step-children, partners and other loved ones may not be recognised by the Courts and receive nothing, and likewise, ex-spouses or estranged family members could receive more than you would have liked them to.

5. Even without home or business ownership, you probably have assets you don’t know about. For instance, most people don’t realise that their normal superannuation fund contains several hundred thousand dollars in superannuation life insurance.

6. Even if you have few assets, you may have debts. If there are items within your Estate which are valuable and you don’t have a Will – they may be seized to recover debts – even if they have sentimental value to loved ones.

7. A Will needs to be reviewed as your life changes and as the Law changes. If you get married, or divorced an existing Will becomes invalid. Changes will also need to be considered with any major life event – including when you have children, buy property or have long term health issues.  In addition, there have been many changes to Superannuation Law, and Taxation Law which may impact a current Will. Changes may need to be made to avoid your Estate being hit with substantial death taxes.

MyCRA Lawyers offers Will Preparation Services – and we encourage all of our credit repair customers to consider this important aspect of their lives.

Image1: Grant Cochrane/ www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Harvest Your Future Business…In The Busy Times

harvest future businessAre you writing a lot more business than you used to? You’re not alone. Being flat out has its obvious advantages – number one being you don’t have to worry about where your next deal’s coming from. But while business is good, it’s easy to forget that times have recently been tough.
 
There are some important habits you can form now while business is flowing well, that will separate you from the pack, and ensure that you always reap the rewards -whatever the market conditions are.
 
By Graham Doessel, Non-Legal Director MyCRA Lawyers.
In Australian Broker yesterday, it was reported that brokers are seeing a big boost in their market share – up to on average 46% of all home loans in the three months to the end of September.This compares to about 40 per cent 18 months ago and a low of 38 per cent during the global financial crisis.
 
Great news – but brokers can do some really important things to make sure this trend is not temporary.While you have more clients on your books, build a plan to keep in touch with them NOW – yes, now, during the busy times. You might as well start when you have plenty of clients.
 
But let’s talk about content. What do we keep in touch about? 
 
In my experience as a broker, I found there are four main areas of interest to your clients:
 
1. Themselves. 
 
How much do you know about your client? Keep in touch on their birthday; when their house anniversary comes around; when you have a new product or service which might interest them; or any old time you’re thinking of them. Personal correspondence is always endearing.
 
2. Their footprint in the market. 
 
Most clients would be interested in what the housing market is doing in their area, and how they are faring in comparison to others in their area. Likewise, information on their business and investment markets will also be well received.
 
3. Opportunities they can take to be better. 
 
New products or services which will enhance your client’s lives, or cut the length of their mortgage down would always be of interest. Whilst understandably many brokers can’t give financial advice to their clients, they can give the benefit of their experience and their knowledge to tell their clients something they didn’t know.
 
Do you forsee interest rates as having a major positive impact on most of your existing clients? Should your bad credit clients look at getting into the market sooner rather than later? Is there someone you can put your clients in touch with who can enhance their lives?
 
4. How you’ve helped them. 
 
When your client has saved thousands because you have helped them find a professional to repair their credit rating before you’ve fitted them into a loan, tell them. When you helped them find a loan that was right for them that ended up being the best long-term choice, tell them. If they’ve saved thousands over the years because you found them a more competitive interest rate, tell them.
 
Actually pointing out what you are doing or what you’ve done may seem obvious, but it may not be so for many of your clients. Showing them where they are saving money, where they could go wrong, and how your extra effort and experience is going to benefit them will mean they feel confident about the decisions they’ve made, and more willing to make another one under your guidance next time.
 
So keep in touch now, and create those habits that will weather any storm.
 
 
We would like to extend our thanks to the many brokers who have allowed us to help them create business in their future, by looking after their clientele with credit rating issues and inconsistencies. We are so happy to hear many have gone back to their brokers to be fitted into a better product, and saved thousands. The loyalty amongst your clients is unmistakable – and that’s reaping real rewards.
 
Call MyCRA Lawyers today on 1300 667 218 and find out how credit repair will work for your clients. Also ask about our generous broker referral system.
Image: zirconicusso/www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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Law Firm lends its muscle to credit rating wars.

Media Release: National

credit rating warsLaw Firm lends its muscle to credit rating wars.

19 November 2013

Thousands of consumers are being locked out of credit because their Credit Provider has blacklisted them unfairly, and a new national law firm is stepping up and taking positive action to fight for them.

MyCRA Lawyers’ Graham Doessel – a pioneer in credit repair who is Non-Legal Director of this breakthrough legal firm focused on credit file consultancy and credit disputes – says the practice means business when it comes to helping those disadvantaged by credit rating mistakes.

“People all over the country are experiencing this debilitating issue and refused finance for five years. If a bad credit listing such as a default has been applied to the consumer’s credit file and it shouldn’t be there – it’s important that someone stands up and advocates for them,” Mr Doessel says.

It doesn’t have to be a big amount which the Credit Provider claims is owed to create a default, nor does it need to be a serial offence.

“Some Australians are snowed under with credit and genuinely robbing Peter to pay Paul; and some have no regard for making payments on time. These people can owe thousands to their Credit Providers and should be weeded out by the credit reporting system.”

“But there are many more ordinary people who are tarnished with the same brush due to one-time oversights, Credit Provider errors, and unsettled disputes. Even accounts of $100 can see them locked out of credit,” he says.

Bad credit notations are listed with credit reporting agencies such as Veda Advantage, who hold the credit files of 16.5 million Australians.

But despite credit file accuracy resting with each individual, a recent survey by Veda revealed 80% of Australians have never checked their credit file.[i]

“This lack of awareness can foster a culture of complacency if those that are supposed to be taking care with credit notations effectively have no watchdog to ensure correct and fair procedure is followed,” he argues.

He goes on to say, “often if the notation is there in error it’s not until the consumer applies for credit and is knocked back that they even begin to start to unravel the mess on their credit rating.”

Whilst there are free channels for disputing credit listings, Mr Doessel says in many cases consumers have neither the time nor skill to build or argue an effective case.

“New changes are coming through for credit reporting which could increase the number of Australians with bad credit. We forsee a great need for good advocates going forward, and we believe the best way to do that is by being part of the legal process,” Mr Doessel says.

His passion for helping consumers is a match for MyCRA Law’s Legal Practitioner Director and Principal Solicitor MaryAnn Armstrong.

She was once told that good people do not make good lawyers, and Ms Armstrong is determined to prove them wrong.

Armstrong and Doessel have built a team of like-minded people from Solicitors through to Receptionists who are all focused on helping consumers.

Ms Armstrong says, “Lawyers have a notorious reputation for helping themselves first and the client second, but I went into law with the viewpoint that everyone needs and deserves help in some way – and if we can provide that – even if it’s just furthering awareness of these issues, that’s what I will do.”

She warns consumers experiencing credit issues to be wary of shonks out there who are offering to repair bad credit and providing legal advice or performing a legal service without a practising certificate.

“Credit repair is not a formally regulated industry and while there are some good companies out there, there are also plenty of cowboys preying on consumers desperate to get finance and delivering very little in terms of quality or results,” she says.

“In some instances if people can’t afford good credit repair, they may get better results doing the leg work themselves if they have the time, and accessing the free channels for dispute, rather than paying good money to a company which seems cheap, but in many cases has minimal legal training and therefore little recourse for unethical behaviour, and could end up costing them dearly down the track,” Ms Armstrong says.

You can check if a credit repair firm is an Incorporated Legal Practice with the relevant Law Society (there’s one in each State).

MyCRA Lawyers are offering a free credit check to readers who have never checked their credit rating. For details call MyCRA Lawyers tollfree on 1300 667 218.

For existing credit issues, an in-depth Credit File Analysis and credit file consultation can also be obtained.

/ENDS

For interviews, please contact:

Graham Doessel – Non- Legal Director MyCRA Law Ph 3124 7133

MaryAnn Armstrong – Legal Practitioner Director, Principal Solicitor MyCRA Law Ph 3124 7133

For general media enquiries, please contact:

Lisa Brewster – Media Relations media@mycra.com.au

MyCRA Lawyers 246 Stafford Rd, STAFFORD Qld

Office Ph 07 3124 7133 www.mycra.com.au www.mycra.com.au/blog

MyCRA Lawyers…permanently removing defaults, Writs and Judgments from credit files.

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Refinancing is on the up and up – how brokers can capitalise on this trend

BrokerIt seems there is a good opportunity in the current market for brokers to refinance their existing clients and also to capture other home owners looking to refinance. We look at the recent statistics on the refinance market, and discuss the three things brokers can do right now, to make the most of this refinance trend.

By Graham Doessel, Non-Legal Director MyCRA Lawyers.

Lower interest rates seem to have contributed to a growing number of refinanced loans in the current market – and this could continue in the future following the abolition of exit fees.

Official figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show September’s Housing Finance Figures have risen for refinanced loans for the ninth consecutive time since January this year:

The number of refinancing commitments for owner occupied housing (trend) rose 1.1% in September 2013, following a rise of 1.5% in August 2013.

This continuing shift in activity indicates that more borrowers are looking outside of the major banks for better deals in their home loan – and this is good news for brokers.

So here are three things brokers can do right now to put themselves in the best position to capitalise on this trend…

1.       Build quality relationships with existing clients.

The simplest thing brokers can do to take advantage of the refinance trend is to foster the relationship with their existing client database.

A broker who has kept in touch with their client in a natural way is the person that client will seek out when they have questions about their suitability to refinance their loan.

Discussing market trends and even informing them of different loan products during this process also helps to inspire decision making in this area and allows the client to be aware that shopping around for a better loan doesn’t necessarily mean changing brokers.

 2.       Cultivate an online presence in the marketplace.

 In the digital world – convenience has proven to be the key to capturing new clients. Some borrowers may prefer to manage their affairs online, and that means it could be advantageous to have an online presence in order to capture this borrower.

For instance, if borrowers are looking to step away from a major bank, they may do research online looking for a better deal – or they could look to complete the entire transaction in the virtual world.

Your marketing in this area could be really critical to your future and really move your brokerage in the right direction. Niche market brokers are particularly successful in this area, regardless of business size.

 3.       Credit file knowledge and education.

People in existing home loans make credit mistakes too. In fact, many times they don’t know about bad credit until they apply for the new home loan. But if their credit check reveals bad credit – they may have to stick out the existing loan until the listing drops off.

But if the client was about to save tens of thousands of dollars in the new loan – the best thing we can do for them is get an assessment of their credit file and then understand whether the credit listing on their credit file is potentially disputable.

Considering that a recent survey by Veda shows 80% of people have never checked their credit file, it is no wonder that mistakes can go along unnoticed until people apply for credit.

MyCRA Lawyers can help clients who are facing identity theft; some are caught in issues over separation from their spouse; some have been disputing the bill which went to default stage and many people are just victims of the fallout from inadequate billing procedures – wrong names, wrong addresses, human and computer errors.

Listings such as defaults, Writs, Judgments and clearouts are not removed by creditors unless the credit file holder can provide adequate reason and lots of evidence as to why the listing should not be there.

That’s where we come in – to advocate the credit file dispute on their behalf.

So if you want to help your clients repair their bad credit and possibly save a deal or two, then you want to discuss this with us at MyCRA Lawyers today.

In matters of credit file dispute – we provide your clients with the added credibility and muscle of a law firm, without the typical lawyer’s price tag attached.

Call MyCRA Lawyers today on 1300 667 218 and find out how credit repair will work for your clients. Also ask about our generous broker referral system.

Image: stockimages/ www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net



 

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Is your preferred credit repairer a lawyer? If not, here’s why they should be.

credit lawMyCRA Lawyers has been established. Here at MyCRA Lawyers we feel so passionately that this change is the BEST WAY FORWARD for credit repair. Why? Because individuals need strong advocates when disputing their credit reporting issues, but those advocates need to be held accountable. In the absence of any formal regulation of the credit repair industry, the Director of MyCRA has made the significant decision to incorporate a Law firm operating under the overarching framework of an Incorporated Legal Practice, under the Legal Profession Act 2007. The fact is, credit repair is really necessary –but it is not formally regulated or recognised – and sometimes that can hinder the dispute process. In this post, I outline why one of the pioneer companies in credit repair have taken the industry knowledge and experience and “raised the bar” – and created MyCRA Lawyers, and the benefits for you.

By Graham Doessel, Non-Legal Director of MyCRA Lawyers.

There are so many reports of shonks and cowboys operating in credit repair. The stories out there in the press can horrify, and ultimately they can hurt the industry.  But what those criticisms shouldn’t be doing is overshadowing the importance of consumer advocates as players in credit reporting. And make no mistake, consumers need advocates in the credit reporting process as the system currently stands, and in my opinion even more so coming into comprehensive credit reporting with further changes in March next year.

The benefits of your credit repairer being a lawyer

I discuss the added benefits a lawyer can bring to credit repair as guest blogger for The Adviser magazine – a publication for mortgage and finance brokers. You can read the full post, titled ‘Why your preferred credit repairer needs to be a lawyer on The Adviser website.

Below is an excerpt from this post:

Apart from offering a framework for regulation, it also offers significant benefits for credit repair:

•    A lawyer can act in court processes including the removal of Judgment and Writ services, a non-lawyer cannot act in these proceedings;
•    A lawyer can identify legal issues and give your client advice on these;
•    A lawyer can prepare binding agreements, conduct formal negotiations and then follow through with enforcement where necessary;
•    A lawyer can make formal recommendations to Credit Providers making reference to the law, and making representations on the client’s behalf.

Those credit repairers currently performing the above tasks without a practising certificate may be treading dangerous ground.

•    A submission from a lawyer to a Credit Provider will be taken seriously. If requests are ignored real consequences can be deployed.

You can check if a credit repair firm is an Incorporated Legal Practice with the relevant Law Society (there’s one in each State).

Why we’ll continue to advocate for accurate credit reporting

We mean business when it comes to helping those disadvantaged by credit rating mistakes.

People all over the country are suffering at the hands of credit reporting mistakes, errors and ommissions. The result is five years of bad credit. Five years being locked out of finance – unable to get a home loan, or even a mobile phone plan.

It doesn’t have to be a big amount which the Credit Provider claims is owed to create that default, nor does it need to be a serial offence.

There are many more ordinary Australians who are being punished with that credit death-sentence due to one-time oversights; Credit Provider errors; and unsettled disputes. Even accounts of $100 can see them locked out of credit.

A recent survey by credit reporting agency Veda Advantage revealed 80% of Australians have never checked their credit file. We have certainly found this survey to be a pretty accurate reflection of credit file awareness. Most people are simply not checking whether their credit file is accurate or fair and if it contains mistakes, they don’t even know about it until they apply for credit and are refused.

Myself and Legal Practitioner Director MaryAnn Armstrong – Principal Solicitor see it as being vitally important to continue to promote credit reporting awareness in the community, and continue to act as that voice of advocacy in matters of credit reporting as they affect consumers. And in the process, we will also be using the arm of the law to affect change on a case by case basis in areas of credit reporting inconsistency.

20131021-MyCRA-Lawyers-Logo-extra-smHow we can help you

MyCRA Lawyers are offering a free credit check to readers who have never checked their credit rating. Visit http://freecreditrating.com.au/.

If you are currently experiencing credit issues, a more in-depth Credit File Analysis can also be obtained – call MyCRA Lawyers on 1300 667 218 for more details. If you need our credit dispute services, MyCRA Lawyers’s pricing model comes at a fraction of the cost of many other legal services.

Image: Salvatore Vuono/ www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Not all credit repair law firms are created equal.

Media Release

20131021-MyCRA-Lawyers-Logo-medNot all credit repair law firms are created equal.

6 November 2013

One of the country’s top credit repairers has stepped up to fill a gap in the credit repair industry with the establishment of a law firm.

Non-legal Director and well known consumer advocate for credit reporting, Graham Doessel says the establishment of MyCRA Lawyers has been motivated by an identified need to do more for consumers.

“Credit advocates play an essential part in credit reporting, but the only way to truly cover all bases for consumers is to be part of the legal process,” Mr Doessel says.

He says that in reality, when disputing a client’s credit listing, credit repairers can be met with varying responses and lengthy delays, and are not always taken seriously.

“We believe that a law firm can provide strength in dealing with a Credit Provider,” he says.

“Being a law firm allows us to go to the next level on behalf of our clients and bring real quality to our work – without restriction.”

The credit repair industry has grown in popularity in Australia with tight lending conditions post-GFC.

At last count 34 firms claim to be affiliated with credit repair or to repair bad credit.

With that popularity has come criticism from bodies such as Ombudsman Services, other legal centres and even ASIC about questionable practices within the industry. Many have called for the formal regulation of the credit repair industry.

Mr Doessel agrees more credit repairers should be held accountable, and that Regulation needs to follow.

“MyCRA Lawyers believe it’s time to stand above the morass, be a leading firm and ensure that it acts to the highest standard.”

He believes being a law firm with the duties and obligations this brings, will achieve this.

Legal Practitioner Director and Principal Solicitor, MaryAnn Armstrong (JD. MEd. BEd ) says MyCRA Lawyers are one of the few firms who can legally offer Judgment removal services legally and professionally within the credit repair industry.

“Preparing and submitting Court documents, preparing Affidavits – these are all actions which are legally required to be performed by a practising legal firm – and I would argue that any credit repair firm which is claiming to handle any Court matters such as Judgments and Writs should hold a practitioner’s certificate,” Ms Armstrong says.

She also argues that credit repair is a grey area when it comes to the law –and those in the credit repair industry who are giving the impression of performing a legal service, could be doing so illegally.

“The law states that any firm which acts on behalf of a consumer in legal matters is deemed to be performing a legal service, and must hold a practising certificate.”

“Throwing around phrases such as ‘cheaper than a lawyer,’ ‘check if your debt is legal’ or ‘we provide legal removal services’ could be dangerous,” Ms Armstrong says.

Whether or not Australia’s credit repairers would be required to cease operation in the future could come down to the perception of whether or not these firms were deemed to be crossing the line into a legal service.

“It could come to light that many credit repair firms are currently operating as well-intentioned law breakers,” she says.

Mr Doessel says both he and Ms Armstrong are keen to continue to speak out for consumers in matters of credit reporting accuracy.

“With Australia’s new credit laws coming to fruition in March 2014, it will be incredibly important to be a voice for consumers in the credit reporting arena,” Mr Doessel says.

He says MyCRA Law’s pricing model remains at a fraction of the cost of many other legal services, but it is not cheap.

“Our clients are those people who are experiencing credit rating errors, omissions and inconsistencies, which are holding them back from obtaining major credit. We want our services to remain accessible, but we despise the predatory tactics from credit repair firms who target people who are down on their luck – so cheap and nasty is not for us,” he says.

/ENDS.

For interviews, please contact:

Graham Doessel – Non- Legal Director MyCRA Law Ph 3124 7133

MaryAnn Armstrong – Legal Practitioner and Director, Principal Solicitor MyCRA Law Ph 3124 7133

For general media enquiries, please contact:

Lisa Brewster – Media Relations media@mycra.com.au

MyCRA Lawyers 246 Stafford Rd, STAFFORD Qld

Office Ph 07 3124 7133 www.mycra.com.au www.mycra.com.au/blog

MyCRA Lawyers…permanently removing defaults, Writs and Judgments from credit files.

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1 in 12 Australian credit ratings threatened by identity theft.

Media Release

Identity theft1 in 12 Australian credit ratings threatened by identity theft.

24 October 2013

A survey conducted for the Attorney-General’s Department reveals Australian credit ratings are under increasing threat from ballooning identity theft numbers, and a consumer advocate for accurate credit reporting warns victims can pay heavily, with many locked out of mainstream credit for years.

CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repair, Graham Doessel says when fraudsters take out credit in their victim’s name they can leave a trail of destruction on the victim’s credit file.

“Fraudsters are never so kind as to pay the credit back. Defaults can then mount on the victim’s credit rating and hinder the victim’s ability to obtain credit in their own right,” Mr Doessel says.

He goes on to say that “unless the victim can prove they didn’t initiate the credit in the first place, these defaults stay on the credit file for the term, which is five years.”

The warnings come following the release of the ‘Identity Theft Concerns and Experiences‘ survey conducted by Di Marzio Research for the Attorney-General’s Department. (1)

The survey found that identity theft had increased by a massive 40 per cent from 2011 to 2012 to almost one in four Australians having been a victim or known somebody who has been a victim of identity theft.

It also showed 31 per cent of those victims had had their identity used to obtain finance, credit or a loan. This is an increase of 5 per cent from the previous survey in 2011.

These figures correlate to almost one in every twelve Australians being victims of identity fraud which has had the potential to impact their credit rating.

Mr Doessel says pieces of personal information are the building blocks for credit file misuse.

“People can lose personal information in many ways, and they may be unaware of how or when it has occurred – particularly if it has happened via malware or even through too much sharing online,” he explains.

“Sometimes it’s not until the victim applies for credit and is refused that they find out they have been exposed to identity fraud, and by then it may be too late to trace how it took place.”

The survey pinpointed the private sector (Credit Providers such as banks and telcos) as providing victims with the most help with recovery, at 48 per cent – followed by Police at 32 per cent. Interestingly the government was cited as providing only 8 per cent of help with recovery, and 18 per cent of people had no help with recovery.

But Mr Doessel warns that whilst Credit Providers may be able to help with reimbursing some identity theft victims, those that end up with defaults may not be so lucky.

“It’s not a simple case of being ‘reimbursed’ for credit file misuse under the Credit Provider’s insurance. It is a slow and difficult process to try and recover a good name which has been tarnished,” he says.

Mr Doessel says preventative measures centre around the safeguarding of personal information.

“Get up to speed on the ways that fraudsters could misuse your personal information or your credit rating. Put as many preventative measures in place as possible, so that you have the least possible chance of becoming a victim.”

“Also, check for credit file discrepancies. We recommend people regularly obtain a copy of their credit report to ensure that everything on their file is as it should be. That way if there are any problems, they can be rectified while there is no urgency,” he says.

Under current legislation a credit file report can be obtained for free every 12 months from the major credit reporting agencies Veda Advantage, Dun and Bradstreet and TASCOL (if in Tasmania) and is sent to the owner of the credit file within 10 working days, or for a fee it can be sent urgently.

Mr Doessel adds, Australia needs to create a culture of transparency when it comes to combatting this crime.

“Talk, talk, and talk some more, about what you know about identity theft.  If you’re a victim – tell others about your story. In particular, talk to young people who might not fully understand the consequences of giving away their personal information and also talk to older people – who may be less tech-savvy and more vulnerable to predators,” he advises.

You can find more information on identity theft on the Attorney General’s Website http://www.ag.gov.au/identitysecurity.

/ENDS.

Please contact:

Graham Doessel – CEO Ph 3124 7133

Lisa Brewster – Media Relations media@mycra.com.au

Ph 07 3124 7133 www.mycra.com.au www.mycra.com.au/blog

MyCRA Credit Repair 246 Stafford Rd, STAFFORD Qld

MyCRA is Australia’s number one in credit rating repairs. We permanently remove defaults from credit files.

(1) http://www.ag.gov.au/RightsAndProtections/IdentitySecurity/Documents/Identity%20Theft%20Data%20Survey%20Report%202012%20[PDF%205.3MB].pdf
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Identity fraud survey: Find out if you are protected

Identity FraudIt’s Identity Fraud Awareness Week 2013 this week running October 13 to October 19. Identity fraud can leave your credit file in ruins, and in some cases can mean a five year battle to recover your good name. Find out how protected you are from identity fraud by taking the Australian Federal Police’s (AFP) online identity fraud survey. Read more about how identity crime can impact your credit file. Know the basic things to keep you and your credit file safe. And this week, take steps to safeguard yourself in the future, and pass on the message of safety to the people around you.

By Graham Doessel, Founder and CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repair and www.fixmybadcredit.com.au.

Identity theft victims who have had credit taken out in their name can often struggle to recover from having their identity stolen long after the initial fraud has occurred.

People can have mobile phones and credit cards taken out in their name as a minimum. Some can even have mortgages and cars purchased in their name.

The real pain comes when a victim discovers defaults on their credit file – which not only ruins their ability to obtain credit at the time, but those listings remain on their credit file for usually five years from the initial fraud.

What is not often realised is how difficult getting default listings removed from the credit file can be. Even for a victim of identity theft, there is no guarantee the defaults can be removed from their credit file. The victim often has to try to prove they didn’t instigate the credit in the first place. This can be difficult if victims are not aware of how or even when the identity theft occurred.

The Australian Crime Commission now sites high-tech organised crime as costing Australians $15billion a year, and is reported to be the fastest growing crime in the country. And the Australian public is starting to become concerned.

Results from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s (OAIC) 2013 Community Attitudes to Privacy survey were released last week. The survey reports that 48% of Australians believe that online services, including social media, now pose the greatest privacy risk. Only 9% of survey respondents considered social media websites to be trustworthy in protecting privacy.

To know if you may be vulnerable to identity fraud – take the AFP’s identity crime survey this week, and pass it on to people you know. Most involved in identity crime prevention agree that Australians need to increase their knowledge of identity theft, and how to protect themselves – particularly with the volume of computer use in this country. Here are some ways the AFP suggest we can all protect ourselves form identity theft:

How can I protect myself from becoming a victim of identity theft?

You can take some simple steps to reduce the risks of having your personal information stolen or misused:

  • secure your mail box with a lock and make sure mail is cleared regularly

  • shred or destroy your personal and financial papers before you throw them away, or keep them in a secure place if you wish to retain them

  • always cover the keypad at ATMs or on EFTPOS terminals when entering your PIN, and be aware of your surroundings— is anyone trying to observe or watch you, are there any strange or loose fixtures attached to the machine or terminal?

  • ensure that the virus and security software on your computers and mobile devices is up-to-date and current

  • don’t use public computers (for instance, at an internet café), or unsecured wireless ‘hotspots’, to do your internet banking or payments

  • be cautious of who you provide your personal and financial information to—ensure that there is a legitimate reason to supply your details. Don’t be reluctant to ask who will have access to your information and which third parties it may be supplied or sold to. Ask to see a copy of the Privacy Policy of the business before you supply your details

  • only use trusted online payment websites for items won at online auctions or purchased online. Never make payments outside of trusted systems—particularly for goods which you have not yet received

  • regularly review your bank statements and obtain a copy of your credit history report. Report any unauthorised transactions or entries ASAP

  • ask your bank or financial institution for a credit or debit card with an embedded ‘micro-chip’—they are more secure than cards with only magnetic stripes

  • do not respond to scam emails or letters promising huge rewards if bank account details are supplied, or in return for the payment of ‘release fees’ or ‘legal fees’

  • if responding to an online employment or rental advertisement, be wary of transmitting personal information and copies of documents via email or electronically. If asked to attend an interview, do some prior research to confirm the legitimacy of the company or employment agency

  • in relation to social networking sites, always use the most secure settings. Take extreme care if placing personal details such as date of birth, address, phone contacts or educational details on your profile, and do not accept unsolicited ‘friend’ requests

  • for other useful tips, refer to the “Protecting Your Identity booklet – What Everyone Needs to Know (PDF, 700KB)“, published by the Attorney-General’s Department.

  • take our online identity crime survey to see how secure your identity is.

I believe it is also really important to be aware of what your credit file says, and to know if there have been any changes you haven’t initiated.

In my experience often credit file discrepancies can be the first sign we have been victims of identity theft. It is a good idea to regularly obtain a copy of your credit report to ensure that everything on your credit file is as it should be. Strange credit enquiries, changes of contact details, and of course default listings you are unaware of can mean someone has been using your identity.

A credit file report can be obtained for free every 12 months from the major credit reporting agencies Veda Advantage, Dun and Bradstreet and Tasmanian Collection Service and is sent to the owner of the credit file within 10 working days. Or you can pay to have it sent urgently.

If you are vulnerable to identity theft, you may also be able to purchase an alert service with credit reporting agencies – to be kept updated on any changes to your credit file which can indicate identity theft attempts.

This Identity Fraud Awareness Week, the take home message from MyCRA would be:

  • stay vigilant (you never know when identity theft could strike)
  • stay informed (fraudsters are always thinking of new ways to trick people so try to stay one step ahead – it might help to sign up for alert services from Stay Smart Online, and check the ACCC’s Scamwatch website regularly)
  • and talk to others (you don’t want family and friends to become the next victim).

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Australians on ‘credit-collision course’ without better education.

Media Release

credit collision courseAustralians on ‘credit-collision course’ without better education.

15 October 2013

A consumer advocate for accurate credit reporting hopes the introduction of a public scoring system from Veda Advantage will be the catalyst to boost dangerously low credit awareness and reduce the likelihood of credit disasters following the implementation of new Privacy Laws next year.

Graham Doessel, CEO of credit repair company MyCRA says the Veda credit score is calculated from interpreted data at Australia’s biggest credit reporting agency, Veda Advantage – and has up till now been used by many lenders to assess credit worthiness.

“This information is now available to consumers, and this is a positive step in terms of transparency,” Mr Doessel says.

“But what I am most hoping will happen, is that more Australians will find this new number an easy and attractive starting point to finding out more about managing their own credit-worthiness.”

He warns if we don’t facilitate credit-savviness now, possibly millions of Australians could be severely disadvantaged come March 2014 when new data sets are available on Australian credit reports.

“The need for knowledge is going to be greater next year, as more people are going to get caught out with a bad credit score, and be scratching their heads to understand why,” he warns.

Recently Veda Advantage released results of its analysis of 300,000 VedaScores with consumer research of 1,000 Australians, and found that an astounding 80% of people had never accessed their credit report.

“…despite 15% of Australians being at risk of a credit default being recorded on their credit report in the next 12 months, considerable lack of awareness exists about what a credit history is, or how a poor credit report can impact chances of getting credit from lenders,” Belinda Diprose, Veda Marketing Manager says.

Mr Doessel says it demonstrates an alarming rate of ignorance in the community.

“It’s not really the fault of consumers. In my opinion there has not nearly been enough emphasis on public credit education right across the board up until quite recently,” he says.

Mr Doessel says there are some important basics about their credit rating that Australians should know.

5 Things You Need To Know To Manage Your Credit Worthiness.

1.  You don’t have to pay to see your credit file, just your credit score.

In most cases you can access your credit file for free annually from all of Australia’s credit reporting agencies, and this will remain at a standard 10-day issue from receipt of application. It is important to apply for your credit file with each credit reporting agency – as you may have defaults with only one company. They are: Veda Advantage, Dun & Bradstreet, Tasmanian Collection Services, and Experian.

2. Your credit score rates you based on other credit-active Australians.

Your credit score based on Veda data will be available to you when you pay to see your VedaScore with your credit report, via this particular credit reporting agency. Veda Advantage holds roughly 16.5 million Australian credit files – so the data should be quite predictive of your overall credit worthiness in comparison to other credit-active Australians. If you are applying for credit in the near future, this credit score could be important to know.

3. There are several factors that make up your credit-worthiness.

Items such as negative credit listings (defaults, Court Writs, Judgments and Bankruptcies); number of credit enquiries and the type and size of credit requested in your past application can all impact your credit worthiness.

But there are other pieces of information about you which also have a bearing on your credit score – including your address; your age; how long you’ve lived at your current address; any business directorship or partnership you have, and the address of the business and length of time there.

Information on the VedaScore calculation can be found on Veda’s website.(1)

4. There will be more factors affecting your credit-worthiness next year.

As of March 2014, there will be 5 new data sets available on Australian credit reports, and this data will be used in any credit score calculation.

They are: repayment history information; the date on which a credit account was opened; the date on which a credit account was closed; the type of credit account opened; and the current limit of each open credit account.

5. Late payments will impact your credit file.

You will still be defaulted if you are more than 60 days late in making repayments to any Credit Provider, but in addition if you are more than 5 days late paying a licenced Credit Provider, you will be issued a late payment notation and this will show on your credit file from March 2014.

Repayment history information applies to credit such as loans and credit cards and is being collected NOW. Too many late payments will more than likely reduce your credit score significantly.

Mr Doessel says better credit education should eventually lead to fewer inconsistencies in credit reporting.

“Credit rating errors are quite common, and the onus of ensuring the credit file is accurate rests with the consumer – so better education across the board could result in more errors being ironed out in the credit reporting systems,” he says.

/ENDS.

For interviews please contact:
Graham Doessel – CEO Ph 3124 7133

For media enquiries please contact:
Lisa Brewster – Media Relations media@mycra.com.au

Ph 07 3124 7133 www.mycra.com.au  www.mycra.com.au/blog

MyCRA Credit Repair 246 Stafford Rd, STAFFORD Qld

MyCRA is Australia’s number one in credit rating repairs. We permanently remove defaults from credit files. CEO of MyCRA Graham Doessel is a frequent consumer spokesperson for credit reporting issues and is a founding member of the Credit Repair Industry Association of Australasia.

(1) http://www.veda.com.au/yourcreditandidentity/check/vedascore/how-my-vedascore-calculated

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Telco Eftel asks customers to pay $299 for their own mix up.

Media Release

disputing a billTelco Eftel asks customers to pay $299 for their own mix up.

8 October 2013

A recent ‘billing system melt down’ by Eftel has seen new connections over the past 6 months being charged a fee of $299 – regardless of how much the connection actually cost them, due to a loophole in their terms and conditions.

Stated to be a “widespread problem affecting all customers who connected within the last 12 months”, the billing hiccup in August meant Eftel was able to charge its new customers between $59 and $299 as outlined in their terms and conditions.

So Eftel opted to charge customers the maximum amount, and customers have been sent a letter advising them that if their connection was less than six months old, they would be charged the rate of $299.

The letter also advised that all charges more than 6 months old would be waived.

Eftel customer John Maxwell, who also happens to work in credit repair, received a letter from Eftel in August on behalf of his partner’s Mother, whose first language is not English, stating they were charging her $299, and he saw red.

“My first response was to question why they were charging her $299 for the connection and not $59 as it was their problem affecting their customers’ accounts. They advised they would be charging the fee of $299 as this is what Telstra has charged them for all of the connections,” Mr Maxwell, Agencies Manager at MyCRA recalls.

But Mr Maxwell says, he vehemently opposed the original fee range at the time of setting up the account for his partner’s Mum, and had demanded a set connection fee be quoted before he would agree to their services.

“I requested the consultant access the recorded conversations from archives and verify what I authorised, and to call me back with an outcome,” he says.

He goes on to say, that it was several correspondences back and forth before Eftel conceded they had overcharged on the account as per his voice recording.

“I knew the facts of what went on, and that everything I had said was recorded. I advised them I was going to escalate the matter to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman for a resolution, and then I finally got someone to listen to all of the recordings,” he says.

Mr Maxwell says he is happy with the outcome but is left wondering how many thousands of other customers are in this same situation.

“How many other customers will now be charged $299 without any idea of how to argue for a fair outcome?” he says.

He worries many will be pushed into hardship upon receiving a bill they cannot afford, without receiving prior notice, or risk default.

CEO of MyCRA, Graham Doessel, says many people seeking credit repair have defaults originating from billing disputes that went unresolved.

“People can get angry and emotional over bills they think are unfair or don’t agree with, and end up defaulting on their account by refusing to pay without resolving the matter. Or other times people think they have resolved a billing dispute, only to have been defaulted anyway,” Mr Doessel says.

He has provided three of the most important things people may need to know when disputing a bill.

Billing Disputes.

1. Act quickly. Contact the Bill Provider as soon as you receive the bill and attempt to resolve the discrepancy. Ask them to note that you are disputing your bill and verify it in writing. It’s best to try to resolve the complaint prior to your account going into arrears (within 60 days).

2. Get everything in writing. Document as much as you can and send a copy of your complaint in writing. Make a note of the name of each person you speak to on the telephone, and the nature of the discussion with each. Note any resolutions that were reached and request those be emailed or sent to you in writing.

3. See it through. If the credit provider fails to honour the discrepancy, advise them you will be contacting the appropriate Ombudsman.

For direction in how to dispute a telco bill, visit the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman website www.tio.com.au.

/ENDS. 

For media enquires contact:

Lisa Brewster
 Media Liaison media@mycra.com.au

Account of Eftel dispute by John Maxwell  available upon request

For interviews contact:

Graham Doessel
 CEO MyCRA Ph 3124 7133

John Maxwell
 Agencies Manager Ph 3124 7133

Ph 07 3124 7133  www.mycra.com.au  www.mycra.com.au/blog 

MyCRA Credit Repair 246 Stafford Rd, STAFFORD Qld

MyCRA is Australia’s number one in credit rating repairs. We permanently remove defaults from credit files. CEO of MyCRA Graham Doessel is a frequent consumer spokesperson for credit reporting issues and is a founding member of the Credit Repair Industry Association of Australasia.

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How will open credit scores impact Australians?

access credit scoreCredit reporting agency Veda Advantage has just announced it will allow consumers to receive a copy of their credit score with their credit report. We look at how that will occur, and what possible impact that will have on consumers and also brokers and whether consumers will be better able to manage their credit worthiness using this ‘score’.

By Graham Doessel, Founder and CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repair and www.fixmybadcredit.com.au.

It was announced on Monday by Banking Day that Veda has ‘lifted the veil’ on credit scores and will allow consumers to be able to apply to see their credit score. Available to consumers for the first time, the VedaScore is a number between 0 and 1,200 that summarises information on your Veda credit file at a specific point in time. The higher the ‘VedaScore’ the better an individual is considered credit worthy.

For a fee consumers will be able to access their credit score along with their credit file.

This is over and above the standard credit report, which is still free from all of Australia’s credit reporting agencies once every year and is sent after 10 working days of application.

Despite being the credit reporting agency holding the credit files of the largest number of credit active Australians, Veda has in the past remained tight lipped about default numbers and credit statistics in Australia.

But this week they have offered some insight into credit activity, whilst releasing their ‘VedaScore’ product, by offering up a ‘Veda ScoreCard’ – which reportedly combines consumer research of 1,000 Australians about their finances with analysis of 300,000 VedaScores.

One of the biggest findings was that more than 2.3 million Australians are at risk of financial strife in the next year, with 27% (628,000) at high risk of credit default from something as simple as an unpaid bill, credit card or loan.

Veda’s survey also found some interesting facts about credit active Australians. Here are three we found most troubling about the credit active Australians surveyed:

93% know they have a credit record, but don’t know you can access it

81% are not concerned about their credit history

80% have never checked their credit history

Veda says the national average credit score is 749. But whilst Veda Marketing Manager Belinda Diprose, says in a statement to the media that making the VedaScore available to consumers for the first time “makes it easier for Australians to understand and manage their credit profile” – I am unsure how this will occur – as it hasn’t been announced that there will be a breakdown of that score and how it is calculated. There may be no way for consumers to understand what they can do to prevent their credit score from being reduced.

Yesterday Business Insider Australia featured an American report on How To Improve Your Credit Score. Whilst the U.S. system has a vastly different credit reporting system – what’s interesting is, the report gives us insight into how the U.S. ‘Fico’ Score is broken down:

FICO score breakdown

 

 

Chart from Business Insider Australia’s report.

A similar breakdown could be useful to consumers looking to improve their credit worthiness or prevent decision making which reduces their credit score.

How will the VedaScore impact brokers?

Today we were quoted in The Adviser in a story about the Veda Credit Score.

 Graham Doessel, chief executive officer of MyCRA Credit Rating Repair, said brokers should use the score to select the appropriate loan and lender for their clients, cutting back on rejected loan applications.

“Being able to see the credit score would be invaluable to brokers,” he told The Adviser. “It will make their job much easier, because they can have an idea very quickly how the client is going to fare with particular lenders.”

Alex Shumsky from Loan Market Oakleigh also made an important point about credit scoring information in the same story:

[Credit scoring] can be valuable provided the credit scoring is in line with that of the banks.

“You can submit one loan to one bank and fail on credit scoring then submit it to another bank and it gets approved, same deal, same info but they’ll score it differently,” he said.

It will still be up to brokers to match the right product to the right client – so whilst the VedaScore will be valuable in many cases, different banks will have different priorities and different scoring systems.

We also see it could bring new clients to brokers – those who have obtained their credit score but don’t know how to interpret it, or what the relevance of that score will be with each lender.

Brokers will still be quite necessary in terms of helping borrowers ‘test’ how their score rates against a range of available credit. What we don’t want to see in the future, are a great volume of borrowers ‘going it alone’ using their credit score, and then falling into the trap of worsening their credit score by generating excess credit enquiries.

So whilst revealing the score is great, we hope consumer education goes hand in hand with this product release.

For more information on your credit file, visit our main website www.mycra.com.au. 

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Veda credit scores: mystery still surrounds calculation

Press Release

credit scoreVeda credit scores: mystery still surrounds calculation.

2 October 2013

The decision by Veda Advantage to offer credit scores to Australian consumers previously reserved for lenders has been welcomed by a consumer advocate for accurate credit reporting – as long as Veda  clearly outlines how the score is calculated.

CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repair, Graham Doessel says in general consumers have been kept in the dark about how to best actively manage their credit worthiness.

“I believe every credit active individual has the right to know what their credit score is, but with that, they also need to know how that score is arrived at to positively manage their own credit decisions,” Mr Doessel says.

He says people believe if they pay all of their bills on time, their credit score will be high, but this is not always the case.

“There are a range of factors that go into the score calculation – and it has all been a bit of a mystery to consumers really which is not ideal,” he says.

Mr Doessel says largely consumers don’t even know they have a credit score.

“Most times it’s only when their credit score is lower than it should be to obtain finance with a lender that consumers even know they have been rated with a number attached to their approvability,” he says.

Veda Advantage’s Marketing Manager Belinda Diprose told Banking Day yesterday there was a low level of consumer awareness about credit reporting, with as much as eighty per cent of people having never checked their credit report.[i]

Mr Doessel says currently the big issue with allocating a credit score under the current credit reporting system, is that the number is only calculated on negative data.

“It’s not balanced. An individual can have a few too many credit enquiries in a certain period, and perhaps apply for the ‘wrong’ type of credit, which will reduce their rating, and there is no consideration for paying bills on time to offset that information,” he says.

New Privacy laws to take effect March 2014 will provide extra information for lenders and Mr Doessel says this will deliver a bigger picture of credit suitability and more information from which credit reporting agencies can draw on to calculate a fairer credit score.

“Until then, any number of things could be shaving points off your score – consumers don’t really know for sure the full gamut of what may reduce it, and this needs to be made public knowledge now that the score is available and moving forward towards comprehensive credit reporting in March.”

Go to http://bit.ly/My-Free-Credit-File for more information on obtaining your credit score.

/ENDS.

Please contact:

Graham Doessel – CEO Ph 3124 7133

Lisa Brewster – Media Relations media@mycra.com.au

Ph 07 3124 7133 www.mycra.com.au www.mycra.com.au/blog

MyCRA Credit Repair 246 Stafford Rd, STAFFORD Qld

MyCRA is Australia’s number one in credit rating repairs. We permanently remove defaults from credit files. CEO of MyCRA Graham Doessel is a frequent consumer spokesperson for credit reporting issues and is a founding member of the Credit Repair Industry Association of Australasia.

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Slap on the wrist for Telstra under TCP Code

global roamingTelstra customers were overcharged over $30 million on global roaming charges between 2006 and 2012 – and under the new Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code (TCP Code), the telco giant has been issued a formal warning from the Australian Communications and Media Authority rather than a fine.  Is the TCP Code effective in asserting real power over telcos? This is an issue we have been and will be watching closely, as it is of great importance to many of our credit repair clients. We examine this case in detail.

By Graham Doessel, Founder and CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repair and www.fixmybadcredit.com.au.

Customer complaints about telcos are astoundingly voluminous – with recent statistics showing there were 22,918 mobile complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman in the January-March 2013 quarter alone.

The TCP Code, overseen by the ACMA was devised in order to encourage better behaviour amongst Australian telcos who were doing pretty poorly in many areas according to the ACMA’s report into their extensive telco inquiry, Reconnecting the Customer.

Since the new TCP Code was registered in September 2012, the ACMA has been checking the compliance of telco providers with key new consumer protections – including new advertising rules, the requirement for Critical Information Statements and the requirement for providers to submit their own compliance assessments to industry body Communications Compliance.

The ACMA reports it has:

Made over 330 inquiries with providers about TCP compliance issues

Issued 8 Formal Warnings and

Given 3 Directions to Comply.

The Telstra case is a significant example. The case in a nutshell, was reported by Adam Turner for Brisbane Times:

Australian Communications and Media Authority has let Telstra off with a warning after the telco waited three years to investigate a billing error through which Australians travelling abroad were overcharged by about $30 million for services. About 260,000 customers were affected by the error between 2006 and 2012, caused by incorrect data-usage details being passed to Telstra by a data-clearing warehouse used by international carriers. As a result, some Telstra customers paid the 50¢ flagfall fee more than once each time they used mobile data on their phones while travelling.

Customers raised concerns in 2009 but Telstra failed to investigate the problem until 2012, when it reported it to the ACMA.

The ACMA report found Telstra in breach of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code, as the global roaming billing errors after 2009 were attributable to the telco’s failure to investigate the problem.

ACMA found Telstra in breach of the consumer code, but it has the power to issue only a warning rather than a fine.

Some have argued after the final TCP Code was approved by the ACMA, the end result was a fairly watered down Code with no ‘teeth’ to exert real penalties for breaches. In addition, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) issued a statement in July criticising the ACMA for not penalising telcos who breach the code.

“The ACMA investigation shows telcos are in breach of the TCP Code on a daily basis,” an ACCAN spokesman said.

“We are encouraged to see the ACMA investigating these breaches. However, the regulator’s unwillingness to hand down even the most basic available penalty for confirmed breaches has the potential to create a culture of poor compliance.”

This may pan out to be largely right, but this Telstra case may not be the one to base that judgement on. The ACMA went into detail in a release to the media about why it chose to only warn the telco:

The ACMA’s decision on this occasion to formally warn Telstra for the breach took into account the facts that Telstra was not the original cause of the problem; that this was the first time a billing issue of this nature had been investigated under the TCP Code; that Telstra itself reported the matter; and that Telstra appears to be otherwise currently compliant with the relevant parts of the TCP Code 2012. Importantly, Telstra proactively implemented a comprehensive program of compensation that mitigated the harm for affected customers.

However, it does highlight the culture of difficulty when it comes to customer complaints which was so evident from the ACMA’s original investigation into the behaviour of Australian telcos across the board, and which has been an issue amongst our telco credit repair customers.

ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said in his statement to the media the situation highlights the need for telcos to take customer complaints more seriously.

”Our investigation makes it very clear that all telcos need to listen to their customers who report billing problems and be vigilant about any potential issues with the information provided to them by third parties,” he says.

The ACMA’s focus over the next quarter will be on checking compliance with the new requirement that telco providers notify customers on included value plans when they have used 50%, 85% and 100% of their included allowance. This was another major complaint coming out of the ACMA’s Reconnecting the Customer report and one which has also impacted the credit files of telco customers.

We will be watching really closely how this pans out, and reporting on the positive and negative ramifications for consumers and their credit files.

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‘Talk Like A Pirate Day’ For Childhood Cancer: Illness and Your Credit File

MyCRA piratesAaargh me hearties! MyCRA be helpin’ to raise money and awareness of issues around childhood cancer support through ‘Talk Like A Pirate Day’. Talk Like A Pirate Day is dedicated to raising awareness of the impacts that childhood cancer has on families whilst raising vital funds for a great cause.

We be raising some serious pieces of eight to help out with those families and we be doin’ it through speakin’ pirate all day today. We be havin’ a great time, an’ we hope you be likin’ our pirates Jamie and Zac in the picture.

On a more serious note, we thought Talk Like A Pirate Day was a good opportunity to discuss the serious issue of how you can protect your credit file in times of illness in the family. We look at how your credit file can be affected by illness, and what you can do to protect it – because a financial crisis is the last thing you need.

By Graham Doessel, Founder and CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repair and www.fixmybadcredit.com.au.

Childhood Cancer Support provides a range of support services to families of children undergoing oncology treatment. These families are from various parts of Australia, Pacific Islands, Middle East and New Caledonia. When you or someone you love is fighting cancer or another serious illness, it can put a massive strain on your finances.

According to Cancer Council research, families can expect to lose more than $47,200 when a family member is diagnosed with cancer, so the financial impact of a cancer diagnosis can leave many patients in desperate need of immediate funds.

If you are unable to work – it is not always as simple as claiming sickness benefit – even if you have it – it’s not always straightforward. Many times in our line of work we have met people who have been unable to claim a sickness benefit or similar, until they have lost all of their assets. This is not a great situation to be in.

The other thing that happens when someone you love is sick – is that all the day-to-day things go out the window. You are consumed by daily hospital visits, late nights and a blur of confusion and worry. Your head’s just not in the right place to focus on finances, and often repayments can get forgotten.

Here are our top tips for protecting your credit file during a health crisis:

1. Tell your Credit Providers.

Now is not the time to be too proud to put your hand up for help. If you or a loved one is sick and it means you may be off work for some time, it is important to have a discussion with your Creditors if you know you will be unable to make repayments on time. Do this BEFORE you go into arrears, particularly for your licenced credit (mortgage, credit cards etc). If you make these repayments more than 5 days late, you will have it noted on your credit file, which stays there for two years. The other reason you should tell your Credit Provider, is you may even be eligible to claim a rebate or concession, or even receive a voucher or grant to assist with the cost of utility bills. Cancer Council Victoria has a factsheet on these – and you can check which you may be eligible for: http://www.cancervic.org.au/downloads/CISS_factsheets/prac-utilities.pdf. Check the Cancer Council in your State for more specific help.

2. If the situation is dire, ask for a Financial Hardship Variation.

New laws have been passed to help if you are experiencing mortgage stress, particularly in times of temporary hardship like illness. You may be able to reduce the size of your mortgage repayments, or even put a hold on repayments for a period of time without resorting to missed payments.

Many people think they should not tell the bank they’re in financial trouble, and keep quiet for as long as they can about it. But it’s in the bank’s best interests to help you when you’re in trouble rather than see you default on your mortgage or have your home repossessed. One of the main differences between asking for and obtaining an official variation in your credit obligations compared with simply not paying your bills is that you avoid the bank placing a default listing on your credit file (provided you meet the new obligations that is).

But there are some things you do need to be aware of. Any time you fail to make a repayment with your bank on time, the late payment will be recorded on your credit file – so for example if you are unable to make this month’s mortgage repayment by the due date – that late payment will be recorded on your credit file – including the date you repaid the overdue amount. It need only be five days late and you could be penalised.

3. Set up systems to ensure your bills are paid on time.

Although you probably don’t have much time, it’s a really good idea to try and set up direct debits with all of your bills as soon as you can – so you won’t be caught out missing a payment if you have even less time in the days and weeks ahead.

4. Seek financial help and advice.

The best place to start getting help with your finances is the Cancer Council in your state. Through the Cancer Councils, AMP offers free financial advice to cancer patients which could be invaluable in times of crisis.

5. Check your credit file.

Hopefully your family will one day soon recover from this unexpected crisis, and when that day arrives, make the time to check your credit file has stayed intact through it all. If there are any defaults, or other negative notations incurred during this time and you believe they are unfair, incorrect or just shouldn’t be there – you may have a case to dispute them and request their removal. Start by grabbing a copy of your credit file www.freecreditrating.com.au.

It is a good idea to keep for anyone to keep their credit file as healthy as possible, but when you have a family health crisis, it is even more important that its clear in case you need to borrow funds.

For more information and help with your credit file, contact MyCRA on 1300 667 218 or visit our website www.mycra.com.au.

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Two Australians arrested for ID Theft

Police StationAustralian Federal Police announced late last week they had arrested two men producing fake identity material and committing credit card fraud. We look at the details of this arrest (which was a joint operation by the Identity Security Strike Team), and the recommendations Police make to ensure YOU lessen your chances of falling victim to identity theft and having your ability to obtain credit impacted by defaults.

By Graham Doessel, Founder and CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repair and www.fixmybadcredit.com.au.

Police report the operation began in January when intelligence gathered in previous operations identified a 52-year-old Beverly Hills man suspected of manufacturing fake identification and credit cards. Here is an excerpt from their media statement last week:

Following investigative activities over the past eight months, search warrants were executed at a number of locations on Tuesday, including a Riverwood premises where police will allege that the 52-year-old man manufactured false documents, including driver licences, Medicare cards and credit cards. A 47-year-old Burwood man was identified as sourcing the identification information and supplying the completed false identification documents to others.

A substantial amount of cash was also seized during Tuesday’s search warrants. The alleged criminal activity used high-end printing and manufacturing equipment to produce cards that were strong versions of officially-issued items.

NSW Police Force Serious Crime Director Peter Cotter commended investigators for their efforts dismantling the group.

“They had a well-resourced set-up and were capable of quickly reproducing a range of fraudulent identification documents which appeared to be the genuine article, making them particularly difficult to detect in our community,” Detective Chief Superintendent Cotter said.

“This is a great example of how powerful law enforcement is when we work collaboratively to combat crime. The arrests serve as a warning for others who choose to engage in this type of criminal behavior.”

NSW Roads and Maritime Services Director of Customer and Compliance Peter Wells said improved links with other identity issuing agencies was continuing to ensure identity thieves were apprehended.

Identity theft is the curse of the 21st Century and that is becoming more evident in our industry of credit rating repair. There are more and more people needing help with repairing their credit file due to having their identity misrepresented in some way.

Often the first time we are aware of identity theft is when we apply for credit and are flatly refused due to defaults on our credit file that are not ours.

Credit file defaults are difficult for the individual to remove and generally people are told by creditors they remain on our file for 5 years, regardless of how they got there.

Although it seemed so easy for the fraudster to use your good name in the first place, you are now faced with proving the case of identity theft with copious amounts of documentary evidence.

If you have neither the time nor the knowledge of our credit reporting system that you may need to fight your case yourself, you can seek the help of a credit repairer. A credit repairer can help you to clear your credit file and restore the financial freedom you rightly deserve.

The reason a credit repairer is usually so successful in removing your credit file defaults, is their relationships with creditors, and their knowledge of current legislation.

If you have just found out you are a victim, we recommend you also contact the Police. Don’t be embarrassed – it is only through identity theft being reported that data gets collected and appropriate preventative measures eventually get put in place.

Police offer some “red flags” which may show your identity security has been compromised. Top of their list, was your credit report. Checking your credit report regularly is essential to ensure your information is accurate. Your personal details on your credit report should also be checked to ensure they have not been altered by identity thieves. You can check your credit report free once per year. Click here to find out more

POLICE TIPS FOR PROTECTING YOUR IDENTITY:

•Check your credit report every year. If you find that you have been marked as having unpaid accounts, for example, that you have never heard of, you might have become the victim of an identity theft.

•If you are on the phone, confirm that the persons you are making contact with are who you think they are.

•Lock postal mailboxes to deter theft of mail.

•Always store any personal or financial documents in a safe place.

•Do not provide your tax file numbers or other identifying information to people who don’t have a requirement to know.

•Destroy old documents and cards before disposing of them, otherwise your rubbish could become someone else’s means to stealing your identity.

•Keep your credit and debit cards secure and never let them leave your sight when paying for something, for example the bill at a restaurant.

•Report missing or stolen passports to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

•Report missing or stolen driver licenses to your state/territory roads and traffic authority.

•Report missing or stolen credit/debit cards to your bank or other financial institution.

•Report missing or stolen mobile phones to your telecommunication provider.

•Ensure that your personal computer has up to date software and antivirus software installed.

•Be aware of phishing emails through which criminals will try to elicit your personal information (including credit card numbers).

If you would like to know more about identity theft and your credit file, visit this link http://www.mycra.com.au/identity-theft/.

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Commercial defaults: don’t risk it with your small business

Media Release

small business creditCommercial defaults: don’t risk it with your small business

12 September 2013

Credit to fund small businesses can be difficult to obtain, and a credit expert warns it is important to stay under the radar when it comes to your credit file to ensure you are not defaulted when you need it most.

CEO of national credit repair company, MyCRA Graham Doessel, says small businesses can sometimes find repayments a juggling act but when it comes to maintaining a clean credit file it is essential to make sure all accounts are paid on time.

“Running a small business can be a bit of a juggling act especially if revenue isn’t consistent, but despite this, it is essential that systems are developed to ensure accounts are paid prior to the due date regardless,” Mr Doessel says.

He says many people don’t realise the ramifications of paying accounts late. Whether it be a business account or a consumer account – if it more than 60 days late you will likely end up with a default on your credit file. Even one account in default could mean you are either refused credit altogether, or offered a much higher interest rate.

“Many businesses can find the higher interest charges alone can set them back way too much to make expansion or starting up viable,” he says.

“I have a current client trying to fight a mistake on his business credit file which has seen a $1,000 default hinder a $1.4 million loan. Although he has been offered a loan, the 2% interest rate increase for bad credit will mean he has to pay a staggering $28,000 per year in additional interest.”

He adds, that defaults can be made quickly, with less protection for SME’s in the commercial landscape.

“Although many Credit Providers adhere to the 60 days in arrears rule before placing a default on your commercial credit file, technically, they don’t have to. The normal protections consumers are afforded in the Credit Reporting Code of Conduct are not extended to commercial credit,” he warns.

Despite the laws, many of the Ombudsman Services do encourage Credit Providers to give adequate written notice to remedy an account in arrears prior to listing a default.

Ideas to minimise your risk of defaults

1. Pay all accounts on time. You need to have systems in place whereby credit cards and all bills are paid on schedule. If the business is running behind, Creditors need to be contacted and payment plans possibly worked out before the due dates to best avoid a default listing on your credit file. Be aware, that repayments to licenced Credit Providers (loans, credit cards etc) which are more than 5 days late will be noted missed on your credit file and listed as a ‘late payment’. These remain on your credit file for 2 years.

2. Ensure all accounts are paid to you on time. Chase up bounced cheques and failures to pay immediately.  Too many accounts left unpaid can leave you short and run your business into the ground if left to continue. Regard any client non-payment as potential risks to your credit rating.  Develop a tactful system for retrieval ahead of time – reminding clients of the risks to their credit rating by defaulting on payments to you. If overdue accounts go beyond 60 days, notify the account holder in writing you will be referring the non-payment to a credit reporting agency.

3. Consider credit checks for all potential account holders. Anyone who requests an account of significant proportions could be required to submit a credit application before the account is instigated. This involves you running a credit check on them with one of the major credit reporting agencies.

4. Regularly obtain a copy of your credit file – once a year is recommended to ensure it is all as it should be. If there are any discrepancies or listings which you believe should not be there, address them prior to needing the extra credit for your business. This will mean less stress for you. You can do this by visiting www.freecreditrating.com.au.

5. Minimise credit enquiries. If you are not sure about your business’ credit health, run your own check before applying for new credit.  You should also minimise credit applications. Some lenders are rejecting loans for as little as two credit enquiries in 30 days, or six enquiries within the year – so it pays to only apply for credit you intend to pursue.

6. Safeguard your consumer credit file. Business is touchy and subjected to many unknowns, but the family home and your consumer credit file should be kept protected. If some major clients go under, and payments are not made – who’s going to help fund your now over-extended mortgage? Not only can your credit rating be compromised for five years, but your spouses’ as well. Any new credit will be at sky-high interest rates. You might lose the business, and any opportunities to borrow again for business in the future, but worse, you might lose your family’s ability to borrow at good rates for a mortgage, personal loan, credit cards and even mobile phones.

7. Monitor your accounts regularly.  If you are the owner of the business but not the person responsible for accounts, ensure you still have hands on knowledge of the business’ expenses.  Check accounts are being paid; check receipts and credit card statements regularly.

Mr Doessel says in the current economic climate with businesses potentially more likely to pay accounts late, there has never been a more important time to protect your credit rating.

“Choose your credit wisely, choose your clients wisely, and make paying your debts a priority – regardless of the size of your business,” he says.

You can find more information on your credit rating at www.mycra.com.au.

/ENDS.

For further comment:


Lisa Brewster – Media Relations Ph 3124 7133 
media@mycra.com.au

Graham Doessel – CEO MyCRA Ph 3124 7133
 www.mycra.com.au   www.mycra.com.au/blog

246 Stafford Rd, STAFFORD Qld

Photos available on request.

This Image: David Castillo Dominici/ www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Credit survey shows mobile bill a priority at expense of mortgage

late paymentA NewsPoll survey sponsored by credit reporting agency, Dun & Bradstreet has found that financially strapped consumers would forego paying their mortgage before they skipped paying their mobile phone bill. We look at the details of this survey and the ramifications for their credit file if people choose this path in reality when they are under financial stress.

By Graham Doessel, Founder and CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repair and www.fixmybadcredit.com.au.

The Age published a story The Hard Truth on Credit Reports on Sunday, detailing the results of this survey sponsored by Dun & Bradstreet. We look at an excerpt from it:

Newspoll asked 1200 consumers which bills they would not pay if they did not have enough money to meet their financial obligations. The mortgage is the most-nominated expense for non-payment, followed by pay TV subscriptions. More consumers would forgo payments on the mortgage, pay TV and electricity before they stopped paying their mobile phone bills.

The survey, sponsored by credit reporting agency Dun & Bradstreet, goes against the accepted wisdom that most people would think it essential to keep paying the mortgage on time. Steve Brown, head of the consumer credit bureau at Dun & Bradstreet, says the results are probably explained by the fact consumers think about the consequences of not making their financial obligations.

”They are looking at how their lifestyle would be affected,” he says. ”With the mortgage, the reality is nothing is likely to happen for months,” Brown says. That is because there are processes that have to be followed by a lender before the house can be repossessed and the lender is going to negotiate first with the borrower.

Brown says another factor could be that delaying a mortgage payment ”frees up” more cash than not paying some of the other household bills. Many people probably feel they cannot do without the mobile phone, he says. The pay-TV subscription, he says, is probably regarded as a bit of a luxury.

Whilst these suggestions from Mr Brown are fair assumptions, one of the other reasons consumers could be nominating their mobile phone bills would be paid on time over their mortgage could also be to do with the long history of difficulties associated with dealing with telcos in situations of financial difficulty. Perhaps there is the perception that banks would be fairer in their approach to difficulties, and easier to deal with than telcos in these situations. Consumers have in the past experienced problems with customer service with telcos. The multitude of complaints in this area resulted in a major inquiry by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the report – Reconnecting the Customer. (The telco industry has since developed a Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code which came into effect on 1 September 2012).

The other thing this report reveals is a lack of awareness across the board of current laws around reporting of late payments on Australian credit reports.

If you are in real financial difficulty – try to sort it out with all of your Credit Providers prior to being late with any bill payment. But if you were to choose which credit account to miss paying – don’t make it the mortgage or credit card!

Here are the current rules governing Australian credit reports:

Repayments to licenced Credit Providers – including payments due for mortgages, credit cards and other licenced credit must be made on time. If you are more than 5 days in arrears with these payments, a late payment notation will be recorded against your name. This has been happening in Australia as of December 2012 and will show on your credit report as of March 2014. Late payments will be erased after two years. If you are more than 60 days in arrears on any account – including licenced credit, mobile phones and utilities, you will have a default recorded against your name. Defaults will be erased after five years.

 Brown says about 85 per cent of people have no reportable problems under the present system. Another 5 per cent have multiple incidents of payment defaults.

The remaining 10 per cent have had a ”bump in the road”, Brown says. They will have missed payments due to a life event, such as losing their job or because of an ill partner, but will have since returned their finances to good order.

Brown says the extra information will help the 10 per cent who have had occasional problems to restore their credit worthiness more quickly. However, there are some individuals who are ”teetering” on defaulting but are receiving more credit because lenders are not seeing the fuller picture.

”Some of the 85 per cent who do not have any reportable problems under the current reporting system are, in fact, overcommitted,” Brown says. They may find it harder to get credit under the new regime, he says.

While the intention of the legislation may be to weed out “overcommitted” borrowers, we have long argued since the repayment history legislation was first in the pipeline that the reporting of late payments will mean those who have even one late payment will be subject to higher interest rate charges while the repayment history information sits on their credit file. We will be watching this phenomenon closely as it unfolds as of March 2014. We hope this new information won’t be a tool to charge higher interest rates to borrowers who have had a “bump in the road” or who have even just missed a repayment due to life circumstances such as holidays, or missed bills and is just used as it is intended – to seek out the overcommitted who are constantly teetering on default.

How to Handle a “Bump In The Road” under the New Laws.

For those people suffering temporary debt stress, there is now a large incentive to talk to your bank.

If you are suddenly unemployed, fall ill, separate from your spouse or have a period of intense debt stress – you should know there are laws that may be able to help you through this difficult time. By putting your hand up early– before your accounts go into arrears – you could save your credit file.

If you are experiencing temporary financial hardship you should contact your bank or building society or other Credit Provider and ask to speak with the Financial Hardship Variation Team.

Using the specific words ‘financial hardship’ will help make it clear to the bank what you need. Ideally, act before you fall into arrears on your account – to save your credit file when you recover from this difficult time.

They may make arrangements with you to get you over this temporary bump in the road, which could include reducing repayments, or freezing repayments for a period of time. To find out more, read the Australian Bankers’ Association’s Factsheet on financial hardship.

To access more information about your credit file, contact MyCRA on 1300 667 218 or visit our website www.mycra.com.au.

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‘TAX REFUND NOTIFICATION’ Don’t get caught out with this scam at tax time.

tax refund notificationA high priority alert has just been issued from Stay Smart Online in regards to malware-carrying emails supposedly from the Australian Taxation Office, which could send your credit file into the doghouse. Most people who regularly read this blog will probably be well aware of the high prevalence of scam emails designed to capture your financial details either directly or through malware. They would also be well aware of the dangers that can pose for your ability to obtain credit in your own right if fraudsters steal your identity and pose as you to take out credit in your name. But we feel it is important to remain vigilant in warning the community when such emails are on the increase. They could just catch out someone you know. So we look at the details on this email and its variants, and what dangers it poses for the financial information of ordinary Australians.

 

By Graham Doessel, Founder and CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repair and www.fixmybadcredit.com.au.

Today Stay Smart Online (the government’s online safety website) issued a warning about cyber criminals taking advantage of the upcoming tax deadline for filing tax returns by launching thousands of scam emails. The emails are purporting to be from the ATO, but contain malware which can steal your personal information.

Security firm Bitdefender reported the detection of three email spam campaigns in late July and early August that saw up to 10,000 spam emails sent on 6 August. This surpassed the 3,000 messages sent on 23 July and the 5,000 messages sent on 15 July.

“This sort of malicious outbreak is expected to continue heavier and more targeted as the tax time approaches its deadline in October,” a Bitdefender advisory warned. “Attackers hope their targets are too concerned with their financial duties to double check the sender’s address and discover the con.”

If your system is infected by the malware in these messages, private data such as passwords and logins for financial institutions can be stolen and distributed to cyber criminals who will exploit it for financial gain.

If your computer becomes infected, not only can personal information be stolen, but malware may force the computer to join a global ‘botnet’ that uses thousands of slave computers to distribute further malware-laden emails—or it might take part in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Among other things, this can seriously reduce the effective speed of a home Internet connection.

What the emails look like…

Most common spam emails

‘Australian Taxation Office – Refund Notification’, with body text including ‘TAX REFUND NOTIFICATION’. It instructs you to open an attachment called ‘ATO_TAX_pokeefe.zip’ or similar. The attachment is typically malware.

‘New information regarding lodgement’ and suggests that the ATO has been attempting to refund a payment to “the credit card we have on file.” Recipients are advised to log into an ‘e-portal’ to receive the refund manually, and that “during the payment process you will be given the opportunity to update the credit card that is on record.”

Important Information…

The ATO will never ask for such information via email. Any email that requests additional information before a refund can be released is a hoax.

If you receive a message like this, do not under any circumstances open the attachment. Delete the message immediately. Never open attachments that arrive with these sorts of messages.

 

Identity theft and your credit file

Identity theft can lead to fraud, and can affect your credit file. It often goes undetected until the victim applies for credit and is refused.

Any kind of credit account (from mortgages and credit cards through to mobile phone accounts) which remains unpaid past 60 days can be listed as a default by creditors on the victim’s credit rating, and those defaults remain there for 5 years.

The consequence of people having a black mark on their credit rating is generally an inability to obtain credit.  Most of the major banks refuse credit to people who have defaults, or even too many credit enquiries, so it is really essential to keep a clean credit record.

If you think your identity has been stolen, or that your personal information has been compromised there are three things you should do to protect your credit file:

1. Contact Police immediately

2. Contact the credit reporting agencies which hold your credit file.

3. Contact your Credit Providers – especially financial institutions.

If you think your tax file number has been stolen, you can visit the ATO’s Client Identity Support Centre for more help. They also give comprehensive advice on what to do in different situations of theft of your personal information.

By law in Australia, if a listing contains inconsistencies the credit file holder has the right to negotiate their amendment or removal.

But to clear their good name, the identity theft victim needs to prove to creditors they did not initiate the credit – which can be difficult. Not only are victims generally required to produce police reports, but large amounts of documentary evidence to substantiate to creditors the case of identity theft.

Contact www.mycra.com.au for more details on credit repair following identity theft.

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Employee fraud: what could it cost your small business?

Media Release

employee fraudEmployee fraud: what could it cost your small business?

2 September 2013

When it comes to employee fraud, a national credit expert warns small businesses they are particularly vulnerable to “losing it all” if fraud strikes, and cannot afford to be complacent about checks and procedures regardless of business size.

CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repair, Graham Doessel says SME’s can easily lose their good credit rating right under their noses if an employee chooses to pilfer funds.

“Many SME’s run on credit, having a smaller amount of capital – and it can mean some months are a delicate balancing act to get accounts paid on time.”

“Even a single instance of fraud can mean accounts go unpaid, posing a great risk to the business’ credit rating. In some cases it can also seep through to the owner’s personal credit rating which can also be tied up with the business,” Mr Doessel says.

The Australian Financial Review reported last month that close to one in two Australian businesses reported at least one incident of economic crime in 2011, with 16 per cent of respondents suffering losses in excess of $5 million. (1)

The AFR featured PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Global Economic Crime Survey, which has been undertaken every two years since 1999.

The survey showed it’s rare that fraud is committed by someone outside an SME. In a small business, employees tend to be given control of cash, inventory and accounts receivable and there are few monitoring systems to check on them.

“Operators of small and medium enterprises tend to believe, often incorrectly, that risk management to limit potential theft and fraud is too costly to implement. Other SMEs don’t have the resources to respond adequately to crime and can be heavily damaged, or even bankrupted, by a single incident,” it was reported.

Mr Doessel says if the business owner is not made aware of the fraud right away it can lead to defaults on the business credit file or the owner’s credit file. The business can then face great difficulty obtaining any credit.

“Most businesses can’t expand, they can’t buy vehicles, or even take out mobile phone plans once there are black marks on the company credit file,” Mr Doessel says.

He goes on to say, that instances of fraud, as with any negative listing which shouldn’t be there, can be difficult for the individual or business to resolve.

“The onus is on the credit file holder to prove the listing has errors or shouldn’t be there. Clients can often be given the run-around by Creditors, and there is less legal obligation on the Creditor in the commercial credit landscape,” he says.

How To Prevent Fraud In Your Small Business
 

1. Reference Checks for Potential Employees

ASIC Spokesperson Joanna Bird recently told Australian Broker that in a review of industry practice they found there weren’t enough businesses conducting thorough reference checks as part of pre-employment screening.

“Nearly everybody did a police check, but in fact not everybody did reference checking,” she said. (2)

2. Credit Checks for Potential Employees

A Survey of Fraud, Bribery and Corruption in Australia and New Zealand published by KPMG earlier this year showed one of the top motivators for fraud was personal finance pressure. (3)

Mr Doessel says employers should consider doing a credit check on potential employees.

“A credit file check where appropriate, would certainly alert the employer to any major debts which could possibly provoke an employee to undertake fraudulent activity,” he says.

Accountancy and Advisory firm William Buck also recently gave some insight into fraud prevention. Here are some ideas Director Grant Martinella offered to prevent fraud:

3. Check financial statements for any adjustments.

“Look out for any unauthorised accounting adjustments to financial statements and consider using software to report on any source data changes and discrepancies,” Mr Martinella told Business Insider Australia. (4)

4. Be wary of key people who refuse to take annual leave.

“Fraudsters may be reluctant to go on leave to avoid having someone else take over their responsibilities and look over their work while they’re gone.”

“Enforce compulsory annual leave, segregate duties so people aren’t acting alone, and ensure that there are clear reporting channels,” Martinella says.

SME’s who need assistance with their business credit rating following fraud can contact MyCRA tollfree on 1300 667 218 or visit their website, www.mycra.com.au.

/ENDS.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Lisa Brewster – Media Relations  Ph 3124 7133 
media@mycra.com.au

Graham Doessel
  - CEO Ph 3124 7133  

http://www.mycra.com.au/  246 Stafford Road, STAFFORD QLD. Ph: 07 3124 7133

MyCRA Credit Repair is Australia’s number one in credit rating repairs. We permanently remove defaults from credit files.


(1) http://www.afr.com/p/sticky_fingered_employees_found_KPZjUqkaEcB8m8YhKHZatL

(2)http://www.brokernews.com.au/news/breaking-news/employee-fraud-the-red-flags-you-need-to-identify-now-178606.aspx?utm_source=Australian+BrokerNews+eNewsletter&utm_campaign=bb8879c81a-ABNewsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_7af1e9f6de-bb8879c81a-43569498

(3) http://www.kpmg.com/AU/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/Fraud-Survey/Documents/fraud-bribery-corruption-survey-2012v2.pdf

(4) http://www.businessinsider.com.au/five-signs-that-you-might-be-working-with-a-fraudster-2013-8

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Telcos to step up spend management awareness under TCP Code

bill shockBILL SHOCK!

We’ve discussed it frequently. We hear about it frequently as credit repairers. Next month, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is overseeing new guidelines under the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code (TCP) designed to reduce the instances of bill shock, and hopefully the frequency of credit disputes over bill shock. The new requirements are about to take effect from 1 September. We look at what the new Code requires and what it will mean for consumers.

By Graham Doessel, Founder and CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repair and www.fixmybadcredit.com.au.

Botched phone plans and lack of data usage monitoring has in the past left many Australians shell shocked over their mobile and internet bills, with bills so large many can’t pay up or refuse to pay up, leading to an increased rate of defaults.

Consumers have been confused when it comes to data allowance – particularly on their smartphones, and this was a major focus following the ACMA’s Reconnecting the Customer inquiry – which found there was a real need for improvement in consumer protection in the telco industry in the areas of Critical Information Summaries, clearer advertising and improved complaint handling.

In the past clients claim they have gone over their allowance really quickly, sometimes without realising it, or the plan they were put on was not appropriate for what they intended to use their mobile internet for. Often they have had great difficulty in cancelling the accounts or coming to a resolution with telcos over these billing issues.

Sometimes consumers have reluctantly paid the bill, thought the matter was settled, only to find they were defaulted anyway, and others have just refused to pay the bill until they got some resolution. Either way, they have been faced with at least 5 years of bad credit from the episode unless they have been able to make a successful complaint.

Last year, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) surveyed its services. It counted 52,231 new complaints about telcos received between January and March 2012. Almost two-thirds were about mobile phone services.

The TIO reports new complaints about over-commitment caused by inadequate spend controls increased to 4,282 in the January-March 2012 quarter, compared to 2,181 in the same quarter in 2011. In the same periods, new complaints about disputed internet charges increased from 981 to 2,823 (180 per cent).

“It is well known that more internet browsing and downloads are now done on mobile phones and other mobile devices. With this change in consumer behaviour, we have seen complaints about excess data charges almost treble over the last year,” Ombudsman Simon Cohen said.  “The incidence of these complaints will reduce if consumers are only contracted for services they can afford, and where spend management tools such as notifications and usage meters are accurate and reliable”.

SPEND MANAGEMENT TOOLS FOR TELCO CUSTOMERS

From 1 September, 2013, spend management alerts, in addition to a range of new tools introduced for telco consumers following registration of the TCP code by the ACMA, will take effect. The changes include:

  • Residential customers on post-paid mobile and internet plans (with the potential for excess usage charges) will receive email updates when their data usage reaches 50 per cent, 85 per cent and 100 per cent of the amount included in their plan
  • Residential customers of the largest three mobile providers—Optus, Telstra and Vodafone—will also, from that date, receive SMS alerts when usage of their included value for calls and SMS reaches 50, 85 and 100 per cent.
  • The warnings at the 100 per cent usage mark must also include details of excess usage charges, which can be considerably higher than charges within the plan.

‘These notifications target customers most at risk of bill shock and represent an enormous industry reform by placing the power of information in the hands of consumers when they need it,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

Customers will not receive the warnings if they are on a plan which does not expose them to bill shock. This includes plans that are a pre-paid service, have a hard cap, or are an unlimited service, a dial-up internet service or are a shaped internet service, (i.e. which slows data rather than imposes excess usage charges when customers reach their data usage limit). The warnings are not mandatory for mobile plans launched prior to 1 March, 2012.

The final element of the new TCP code, developed by Communications Alliance, rolls out in September 2014 when customers of the mid-sized and small telcos (less than 100,000 customers on included value plans) receive voice and SMS usage alerts to accompany their data alerts.

Image: artur84/ www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Children targeted for clean credit history

children credit historyAn interesting story just out of the United States on ID theft attempts on the credit files of children. Whilst Australia has vastly different laws when it comes to children and credit history, we want to share this story with you, to show that children are targets for fraudsters – and to explain what the dangers may be for our Australian children when it comes to fraudsters and their credit file.

By Graham Doessel, Founder and CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repair and www.fixmybadcredit.com.au.

An alarming report by ABC 2 WBay last week ‘ID Thieves Targeting Children’s Clean Credit History’, revealed that children and adolescents have become the fastest growing sector of identity theft victims in the United States. In the U.S., children are allocated a Social Security number from birth, and it is this number that fraudsters are using to steal the identities of their young victims, and take credit out in their name. Here is an excerpt from that story:

Experts warn from the time your child gets a Social Security number, their personal information needs to be protected.

“Be aware of how your children’s personal information is used just like your own information–Social Security number, and date of birth–be aware of how it is being used,” says Jim Walsh, U.S. Postal Inspector.

In a recent case, more than 500 elementary school kids in Los Angeles had their information compromised.  A suspect with access to school files sold the kids’ personal information to another suspect.

“There were hundreds of accounts opened and most of the accounts were used to get money,” said Walsh.

The suspects withdrew cash advances, or they would sell the names to make fake IDs.

Postal inspectors say children have clean credit histories, which makes them appealing to criminals.

“If they apply for a loan or try to get credit, they could find out their credit is basically ruined and wouldn’t know it the whole time they are growing up,” said Walsh.

That’s why it’s important to periodically check your child’s credit.

Unlike the U.S. system, Australian children don’t have a social security number, so they are protected from any immediate identity theft. But what Australian Police have been concerned about in the past is that children are still targets for fraudsters due to their clean credit history, but instead of using personal information straight away as in cases in the U.S. it may be being stored or ‘warehoused’ until the child turns 18.

The main area Police have been concerned about is Facebook – which remains incredibly popular with children, and gives them the option to openly share their personal information on the internet.

The Australian Federal Police’s national co-ordinator of identity security strike team, Ben McQuillan spoke about the dangers of identity crime as far back as 2011 at a forum in Sydney on money laundering and terrorism.

He warned listeners about what was then a new trend of ‘warehousing’ which involves storing data for a time, making it harder for a victim or bank to trace where and when the data was stolen.

”If people know your full name, your date of birth, where you went to school and other lifestyle issues, and they were to warehouse that data, there is a prospect that could then be used to take out loans or credit cards or to create a bank account that could then be used to launder money,” Mr McQuillan told the Sydney Morning Herald.

This warning was echoed by Queensland Fraud Squad’s Superintendant Brian Hay, who warned that criminals were targeting the personal information of our young Facebook users.

Supt Hay said criminals had been known to be storing the personal information of children around the world in databases to be used when they turn 18 and are able to take out credit.

“We know that the crooks have been data warehousing identity information, we know that they’ve been building search engines to profile and build identities,” he told Channel 7’s Sunrise program in October 2011.

“We need to tell our children if you surrender your soul, if you surrender your identity to the internet it could come back to bite you in a very savage way years down the track,” he said.

This data warehousing could leave the newly credit active young person blacklisted from credit well into their 20’s. For 5 years they are locked out of credit, refused cards, loans, even mobile phones. It need not be major fraud to be a massive blow to the identity theft victim. Unpaid accounts for as little as $100 can have the same negative impact on someone’s ability to obtain credit as a missed mortgage payment. So any misuse of someone’s credit file can be extremely significant.

Proving the case of identity theft when attempting to recover a clear credit rating is already difficult for the individual to undertake, as the onus is on the victim to prove to creditors they didn’t initiate the credit. Adding to that the fact that the perpetrator would be long gone with the actual act of identity theft happening years earlier – and those young people will have a very difficult task of recovery indeed.

So how can we protect our children? In the same way we may protect our own identity and credit file.

It begins with taking an active role in children’s computer use, and realising that their personal information is just as coveted as our own. Perhaps even more so – as the likelihood the child will have a clean credit history to begin with is even higher.

Image: imagerymajestic/ www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net children credit history

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Google Chrome doesn’t secure stored passwords

protect passwordStay Smart Online (SSO) has issued an urgent warning to Google Chrome users who save their passwords to their browser. Passwords are not secured properly – allowing other users to be able to view all saved passwords! We look at the vulnerabilities for this method on any browser, and look at what other methods of password retrieval computer users can to adopt to protect their important personal information and ultimately – their credit file.

By Graham Doessel, Founder and CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repair and www.fixmybadcredit.com.au.

Here is an excerpt from the SSO warning – issued on Friday:

Chrome will typically prompt you to save your password for a site that you visit, and remember this for future logins. While other browsers offer the option of a “master password” that can be activated to protect your passwords, Chrome does not.

On any Google Chrome browser, you can type chrome://settings/passwords into the URL bar. This will display a page listing all of the passwords held by that browser—for all users of that computer.

This is particularly concerning for shared computers. You should never save your passwords when using shared computers, such as public computers at a library or airport.

Do not rely on your browser to safely store passwords for you if someone else has physical access to that machine.

Only allow people you trust to access to your computer, especially if that computer contains confidential information.

Online expert Daniel Smith says saving passwords on your browser is something you should never do.

“It may be a convenient way to store the many passwords you might have for different accounts, but if it’s convenient for you, it can be convenient for anyone looking to steal them as well,” he says.

Daniel recommends people wanting to remember difficult passwords should use a secure and trusted third-party tool to protect and manage their passwords rather than save them to their browser.

“Sites such as Passpack.com or Lastpass could be good secure options for password management. One thing to note is that passpack has never been hacked. Another thing to note is that all browsers not just chrome do this,” Daniel says.

Daniel’s Key Tips To Protect Your Password

1. Use secure passwords. Come up with a unique password scheme – for example every 3rd vowel is a number or symbol. Or you could use two unrelated words which are memorable to you, and use tools like the Shift key to create a password that can’t be easily deciphered.

2. Use a different password for each account. It may be harder to remember, but it may just take a little bit of work to make your passwords unique and also easy to remember.

3. Use a unique username – not the default setting. Don’t use ‘admin’ as a username. You should use a username with at least 8 characters and include characters you have to press Shift for.

4. Minimise password login attempts. For sites you have control over access to – restrict the number of attempts allowed to access the site, before the user is ‘locked out’, which prevents multiple attempts to crack the password.

5. Include a 2-step verification plug-in. You can download a plug-in which requires 2-step authentification similar to bank requirements when logging in to the site. These are harder to infiltrate by hackers, but Daniel says many don’t use them because they are inconvenient.

6. Never store passwords in your browser. Take time to make passwords unique yet easy to remember or use a secure third-party password manager if necessary.

Personal Information Security and Your Credit File

Stealing passwords or personal information through these channels can lead to identity theft and potentially fraud. Hackers can on-sell your personal information to fraudsters who have identity theft as part of their repertoire.

Information like passwords, dates of birth, account numbers, full names etc can be warehoused and used to steal your identity and take credit out in your name. Fraudsters have been known to go so far as to take out personal loans, credit cards and even mortgage homes in their victim’s name.

Fraudsters are never so kind as to pay this credit back – which leads to defaults on your credit rating. Most victims are unaware of this until they apply for credit in their own right and are flat out refused.

For between 5 and 7 years you can be locked out of credit while your credit rating shows up someone else’s defaults.

Unfortunately in the past it has not been easy for identity theft victims to prove they did not initiate the credit, particularly if they have no idea how they were duped in the first place. Often this sophisticated type of fraud is instigated by overseas crime syndicates who don’t leave much of a trail, or even if they do, can’t be prosecuted easily.

Prevention really is key to protecting your credit file from this fraud – so spend some time and make sure your passwords are as secure as possible as a first line of defence against identity theft.

Image: foto76/ www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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